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  • i

    Indian Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act: Stumbling

    or Striving Ahead?

    By

    Tulika Saxena

    A thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of The Australian

    National University.

  • ii

    Declaration

    I, Tulika Saxena, declare that this thesis, submitted in fulfilment of the requirements

    for the award of Doctor of Philosophy, in the School of Politics and International

    Relations of the Research School of Social Sciences, College of Arts and Social

    Sciences, Australian National University, is wholly my own work unless otherwise

    referenced or acknowledged. This thesis has not been submitted for qualifications at

    any other academic institution.

    © August 2015 Tulika Saxena

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    Acknowledgments

    Completing my PhD thesis has been a long journey, thankfully, I made it to the end.

    This would not have been possible without the generous support of many people,

    and I acknowledge their contribution. Firstly, my sincere thanks to my supervisor,

    Em. Professor Marian Sawer, who made sure that I reached the end of this research

    project. She was a constant source of support from the start, and always provided me

    with the right motivation. She was a mentor for me, and was never irritated by my

    underdeveloped drafts of chapters. Her feedback on my chapters was always prompt

    and she helped me to focus on what I wanted to achieve from this research project.

    I also thank my panel members Dr Kuntala Lahiri and Professor Stewart Lockie for

    their inputs. Dr Kuntala Lahiri helped me fine tune some important aspects of the

    thesis from an Indian feminist perspective. I have to thank the support provided by

    the Australian Awards Liaison Officer Gina Abarquez and her team, they

    coordinated an excellent orientation program and were always in touch at ANU. The

    generous scholarship from the Australian Awards was the reason that I was able to

    pursue my studies at ANU. I also thank SPIR faculty members and administration

    office staff for always being so helpful. I would also like to thank my various PhD

    colleagues, who always inspired me and made my time at ANU enjoyable. There are

    times when some kind people step in and help you in a way that you had not

    expected. I acknowledge such help from Dr Merrindahl Andrew for reading my

    chapter and giving her inputs to improve it.

    I have to thank many people in India without whom this research would not be

    possible. First of all I acknowledge the support of all the NGOs, government

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    officials and lawyers who made my field work in India possible. Then I have to

    thank all the 78 women who shared their life experiences with me and gave me

    insights into a subject that I am passionate about. There is also a generous friend

    Sharaf who gave his office space for me to work on my thesis in India when I was

    back from Canberra working part time on my thesis.

    I have to thank several friends in Canberra, for without their support it would have

    been hard to survive as a single mother in a foreign land. Naina is one among them,

    and she and others were there to provide me emotional support, inviting me over for

    meals, and most of all they happily baby-sat my daughter whenever I needed to

    study on weekends.

    .I am also indebted to my family, my parents, my mother Bina, for believing in me,

    and my father Rajendra for surviving a bad phase of old age and illness without me

    while I was far away, studying. I also acknowledge the support of my two lovely

    sisters Kokila and Renu. Kokila helped me in Australia to focus on my research and

    Renu helped me by being the anchor of my family in India while Kokila and I were

    away. I also thank the support of my cousin Shreya who provided me help by

    reading and commenting on my chapters and pushed me to finish.

    Lastly but not the least, I want to thank my daughter Anvita and my partner David

    Donovan for tolerating me while I was at my worst and for pushing me when I lost

    motivation. You both have been my life support system. I could not have done this

    without you both. Thanks for standing by me and loving me.

  • v

    Abstract

    Domestic violence, the most pervasive form of violence against women, is accepted

    internationally as a violation of human rights and about 125 countries have policies

    to address it. Women’s movement and activism first brought the issue of violence

    against women onto the mainstream policy making agenda. The focus now rests on

    how efficient these policies are. However, few impact assessment studies on these

    policies are available. This research seeks to fill this gap. An impact assessment of

    the Indian Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) 2005 was

    done in three States of India: Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The

    research assessed the impact of accessing PWDVA in the lives of 78 women from

    these three States. Since States have allocated different resources and used different

    models of implementation, this research also assessed the impact of the State’s

    commitment and resources on the outcomes for women.

    For this research, a gendered impact analysis framework was used, which focussed

    on assessing the level of strategic gender needs of women that were being met.

    Feminists have argued that gender-aware policies might not result in gender

    equitable goals due to the law implementer’s gender bias. The women interviewees

    reported on the law implementers’ behaviour and its impact on the outcomes. They

    also reported on their overall satisfaction with the outcomes through PWDVA and its

    impact on their lives in reducing violence, homelessness and economic dependence.

    The women rated judges, police, lawyers, protection officers appointed under this

    Act and NGOs that had been registered as service providers. It was found that the

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    judges were most influential in impacting the outcomes for women inside court and

    police were most influential outside the court. However, negative behaviours from

    both adversely impacted outcomes. It was found that judges also highly influenced

    the relief granted to women and that protection orders were granted to only one third.

    Maintenance was the relief most often granted. The research findings also show that

    protection officers, intended to be the main law implementers for the PWDVA, were

    the least accessed law implementers in the given research sample. Overall, about 37

    percent of women were extremely satisfied or satisfied with the outcomes and about

    same number of women, that is 37 percent, were not satisfied with the outcomes.

    There were about 23 percent who were partially satisfied.

    Analysis of the behaviour of the key stakeholders reveals that civil society, in the

    form of women’s organisations, NGOs and activists, are the only institutions that

    consistently provide gender-sensitive support to women. The other stakeholders can

    be characterised as still representing the patriarchal state; with gender-insensitive

    behaviours negatively influencing the gender relations that women share with men.

    This research highlights the need to further incorporate civil society into

    implementation of the Act and into capacity-building for other stakeholders such as

    the judiciary and police.

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    Contents+

    Declaration ................................................................................................................... ii

    Acknowledgments ...................................................................................................... iii

    Abstract ........................................................................................................................ v

    Abbreviations ......................................................................................................... xviii

    Chapter 1: Introduction ................................................................................................ 1

    Domestic violence, a journey from the private to the public sphere ........................ 8

    Global agenda development on the issue of domestic violence ............................. 11

    State response to address domestic violence .......................................................... 14

    Chapter 2: Domestic violence in India: Women’s movement and state response .... 18

    State responses versus feminists’ demands ............................................................ 23

    UN Framework for model domestic violence legislation....................................... 28

    UN framework influence on PWDVA ................................................................... 29

    PWDVA compared to other Acts ........................................................................... 31

    Salient features of PWDVA 2005 .......................................................................... 32

    Progress o\f Implementation of PWDVA ........................................................

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