The study focuses on how women’s groups in Gujarat, India continue the activism against domestic violence after the passage of laws. The first domestic violence law (498A, IPC) was passed in 1983 IN India that criminalized physical and mental cruelty within marriage. In 2005, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) was passed and for the first time sexual abuse and marital rape was recognized as illegal. In addition the law extended the meaning of domestic violence to include economic and verbal abuse, and broadened the definition of domestic partnership. Despite the passage of the fairly progressive PWDVA that recognizes domestic violence as a human rights issue, the problem remains. For example, according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS 2005-6), 37% of women in India between ages 15-49 have experienced some sort of domestic violence in their lives. This implies that existence of laws does not lead to automatic eradication of the problem. Instead what is needed is careful intervention at the grassroots level that would lead to successful implementation of law against domestic violence.
This research will focus on leadership and participation of women at the grassroots level against domestic violence in their communities. It will examine and compare the strategies, and related outcomes of NGO led grassroots women leaders against domestic violence. The training and mobilization of grassroots women leaders, and how they strategize to assist in implementation of the domestic violence law at the grassroots will provide clues on execution of legal acts. During their intervention the women leaders negotiate with family members, members of the community, police and lawyers to convince them of the seriousness of the case, to register the compliant, provide counseling to the victim, and also provide legal aid. How ordinary grassroots women are able to achieve this role is itself a no small feat, and demonstrates multi faceted decision making ability of these women. In addition the leaders also empower the victims, and bring out their agentic capacity for individual and social change in the fight against domestic violence in their own (the victim’s) lives.
Investigator: Soma Chaudhuri
Start date: June 2013