Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Guirim Free Legal Aid Cell hits a Hatrick ! This time Legal Awareness on Disability/ AIDS Rrelated Laws

DATE: 16/12/2015
VENUE: Village Panchayat Hall, Guirim
TOPIC FOR MAJOR PROGRAMME: Disability/AIDS related laws by Dr. Rui Da Gama and Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 by Adv. Suraksha Gawas.
TEACHER INCHARGE: Mrs. Pearl Monteiro- Asst. Professor, VMSCL.
MEMBERS PRESENT: Afrah Shaikh, Shantanu Karnik, Dorika Dias, Sr. Jolly George, Siya Parob.

On this day, 16/12/2015, North Goa Legal Services Authority, Panaji (Mapusa cell) in collaboration with Guirim Free Legal Aid Cell, VMSCL organized a legal awareness programme for the Villagers of Guirim. The topics approved by the Chairman of the North Goa Legal Services Authority, Panaji for the legal awareness programme were - Disability/AIDS related laws and Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

The legal awareness programme was organized for 30 persons and rigorous campaigning was done by the student cell members, present for the programme. The speakers were arranged by the North Goa Legal Services Authority, Panaji (Mapusa cell). All costs for the programme were also borne by the North Goa Legal Services Authority, Panaji (Mapusa cell) and no costs were incurred by Legal Aid Cell. Since two Major Programmes were successfully completed by the cell for the academic year, the teacher Incharge- Mrs. Pearl Monteiro entrusted Afrah Shaikh (Cell Incharge) to go forward with the programme.

Around 25 villagers were present at 4:00 pm. Mrs. Gauri Dessai being the representative of the North Goa Legal Services Authority, Mapusa Cell, compared the programme and briefly introduced the Legal Services Authority and told its functions whereas Afrah Shaikh gave an introduction to Guirim Free Legal Aid Cell, VMSCL and explained its functions. Then the talk commenced. The entire programme was conducted in Konkani. There were two speakers namely Dr. Rui Da Gama and Adv. Suraksha Gawas.

Dr. Rui Da Gama spoke about disability/Aids. He said:
  • There are various disabilities, some are disabled by birth, while some due to an accident, some have polio etc. but for the facility of such people it is made necessary for all public institutions to have a ramp where a wheel chair can go till the last floor and a railing where the visually impaired can take help of it.
  • Also there are mentally challenged and government tries to reach out to them too. But most people call them mad and make fun of them which is wrong.
  • The important point here is that these disabilities can be seen whereas there are many other kinds of disabilities which are invisible.
  • Among such disabilities, one such disability is HIV/AIDS.
  • Nobody really knows how HIV virus came into existence, however there are various theories. Some say it’s a curse to mankind for having illicit sexual relation outside marriage. Whereas some say it is due to a sexual relation of a human with a monkey.
  • How it came into existence is not really important but in today’s world awareness about the HIV virus and AIDS is how we can save ourselves and others from the virus since it is a contagious one. Contagious means it spreads.
  • When the virus first attacks a person, in its initial stage it is known as HIV virus, but later is known as AIDS for which no cure has been found till date. HIV/ AIDS makes a person weak and the person is more prone to all kinds of sicknesses due to a weak immune system.
  • The best and the first way to avoid HIV by persons who are not infected is to be committed in the relation and not to have illicit relationships. In an illicit relation you do not know the status of another person whether the person is infected or not and therefore, you are at a huge risk, where you not only endanger yourself but also your married partner.
  • One of the ways is by intimate kiss with an HIV positive person. The moral being that HIV spread can be reduced by following simple laws of marriage.
  • Another way is from HIV positive mother to her expected child in her womb. But these days a child of an HIV positive mother can be saved from being infected with the help of medicines before birth. However, for this awareness is important.
  • There are several children in Asha Bhawan. They have AIDS and do not have a long life and most of them are HIV positive by birth. This could be avoided if their mothers were medicated when expecting.
  • If a person has a cut and if it comes in contact with the virus then the person can get infected therefore, people should take utmost care while using public toilets.
  • HIV can also spread through multiple use of the same syringe. Some unethical doctors use the same syringe for several patients. This can also be a mode of spreading the virus because if the syringe comes in contact with an infected person through the blood, then it shall not be seen but stay there and attack all the others on whom the same syringe is used. Therefore, it is a law that disposable syringes be used and disposed after one use. Care should also be taken for blood donation. Each person donating blood should be tested for any kind of diseases including AIDS.
  •  Young girls and boys sometimes get carried away in a relationship but in our country, India there still exists a concept of marriage. If the young generation does not wait for marriage to fulfill their sexual needs then there is a high risk of HIV/AIDS.
  • Currently in Mumbai, 5 lakh HIV positive patients are detected.
  • It is a suggestion that every person while getting married should get examined for HIV as a safety measure.
  • One should not get disabled by getting infected by this virus. AIDS makes a person weak and disabled. One must take precautions and avoid the social stigma associated with it. GMC provides with medicines and treatment for the infected.
  • Dr. Rui Da Gama lastly said that all people present must pass this information to other people because only information, knowledge and precaution can help avoid the deadly virus.
Then Adv. Suraksha Gawas spoke on Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. She said:
  • The Act is implemented to protect women from all kinds of domestic violence. Violence means any kind of ill treatment whether mental or physical and domestic means within a house, violence done by husband or son or any other family member on a women.
  • This act is specially implemented to protect women because when she gets married, her world changes completely, she goes to a new house and has to adjust herself as per the new house, which in itself is a challenge.
  • Sometimes the in-laws are nice but due to various reasons such as culture differences, or simply because it is another family, it is difficult for the girl to be happily married ever after.
  • The reasons can be several or just one. The husband and the in- laws may trouble because may be dowry was not given, or the husband may ignore the wife as he has another women in life.
  • Women adjust to all this and if not maintained by the husband , have to maintain themselves, look after her children, their school fees etc. all by herself and manage everything.
  • For this reason, the Act is implemented to help, protect and safeguard the interest of women and in Goa many women have got relief under the Act.
  • We get several cases of domestic violence now because gone are the days when women kept quiet and accepted everything.
  • A case under Domestic violence can be filed if any kind of violence exists. Violence includes bad words, hitting, slapping, keeping names, insulting, drinking and behaving badly or any other kind of emotional, mental, monetary and/or physical abuse.
  • Some women go through the torture but do not file a complaint because taking the family to the police etc. will be a shameful to her in- laws and her family and to herself. They also think that they do not have any knowledge of the law any how will they go about, and at the end of the day they have to live with my family, then how to go against them, monetary factor etc. are some of the worries.
  • The Act does not say that if there is a simple argument, a woman should go and file a case. There are many cases filed to torture the husband and in-laws but there are many women going through real torture and suffering which end up in suicides or murders, and to avoid this and the help the women who are in need of such help this act is a blessing for them.
  • There are two ways by which common people can seek help.
  • One is by writing a report of the problems to the BDO Protection Officer. And he will take care of all the other matter, investigate and take the matter to court.
  • Second is by directly making an application to the Magistrate.
  • As per the problem, various reliefs can be asked for: if husband, mother-in- law, daughter-in –law all stay in the same house and the mother-in-law or any other person removes her from the house and no other house is there to stay then can ask for residence order. I.e. a share in the house to stay and if not in the house then somewhere else a room to stay.
  • Protection order in fear of husband or any other member beating or insulting.
  • Monetary relief when no money being given to the wife. She can also attach the husbands salary if he is a government servant.
  • Custodian order can be asked for the benefit of the children.
  • Medical facility is also provided to the aggrieved.
  • Maintenance order for children and for self can be asked for. In a divorce petition only compensation can be asked for but under domestic violence Act, maintenance can be asked and also compensation can be asked Which is not limited to amount.
  • Maintainence for children can be asked being their natural guardian.
  • Old ladies in the house are sometimes troubled and not looked after, they too can ask for maintenance under this act.
  • Certified copy of the act is avail free of cost for Women.
  • No money may be spent by a woman for filing a case since they can avail free legal aid services, which is free of cost for women. They only have to apply to the government telling about the case to be filed and ask for an Advocate.

Various questions with regard to what can be done if the woman does not want to take her family to the police station and the court but wants relief because if matters go to court, relations worsen, and what can be done in such situations and some other related questions were asked. The speaker answered all the queries one by one and cleared the doubts. She said that in panjim there is a commission set up for women, where any person, an aggrieved or any one on behalf of the aggreived can write to them where in matters are solved without taking family to the police station. But the aggrieved has to be present. Lastly she said that if anyone is aware of any person suffering and needs protection, it is each ones responsibility to inform them to reduce their suffering and protect women from violence.

All the people were happy and very impressed with the talk of both speakers. Also meanwhile, the refreshments were served. The programme ended with some group pictures.

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