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Maharashtra to appoint protection officers to assist women in distress   -   27th May 2010

The Maharashtra government has decided to appoint 39 protection officers who will assist women in distress, after a recent survey showed that the number of cases of domestic violence had gone up significantly.

The protection officers, who will be appointed in all the districts, will help women get legal aid and ensure their domestic rights are protected. The government will also take the help of NGOs and social activists to ensure that victims of domestic violence get justice.

Chief minister Ashok Chavan said, “Each district in the state will have at least one protection officer who will be appointed on a contract basis, and in consultation with leading organisations, such as the Tata Institute of Social Studies (TISS) and the Nirmala Niketan. We prefer women officers.”

The officers will have to have degrees in law and social work with some relevant experience. The initial period of appointment will be for a two-year term and thereafter, her/his work will be reviewed for renewal of appointment, he said. These officers will undertake counselling, provide legal guidance and legal aid, if necessary.

The Domestic Violence Act came into existence four years ago; the state government appointed police officers as protection officers to look into the cases covered under the act. The implementation of the act, however, has been poor because the officers entrusted with the responsibility could not devote much attention to it, and there is a lack of expertise in dealing with the cases, which also became a hurdle in the implementation of the act.

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