Action Aid distances itself from ex-country director


New Delhi : Distancing itself from it's former country director who was fined in the first ruling under the Domestic Violence Act, international NGO Action Aid said it condemns all forms of violence against women by anyone, even if it is by the NGO's own staff.

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Amitava Mukherjee, who was fined for abuse of his live-in partner in the first ruling under the Domestic Violence Act, was the country director of Action Aid India in 1999.

Welcoming the move, Alice Wynne Wilson, communications head of Action Aid India said the NGO has always lobbied for the Domestic Violence Act along with women's rights activists across the country.

The fact that one of its employees or ex-employees might be erring in this regard doesn't change its policy of condemning violence against women.

"We strongly condemn any form of violence towards women, even if it's by our own staff. That doesn't change our mission which is to ensure protection to women and help them claim their rights," Pragya Vats of Action Aid India told IANS.

The woman who was living in with Mukherjee since 2003 was under the false impression that he was separated from his wife. Three years on, he walked out of the relationship and allegedly made her terminate her pregnancy in a deceitful manner.

On the other hand, Mukherjee said that he has been happily married for the past 25 years and has kept his family informed about the harassment he faced at the hands of the woman who, he alleged, followed him everywhere.

After hearing both the sides of the case, city magistrate Jagdish Kumar said, "The petitioner stated in her petition that the respondent has admitted her as his wife and applied sindoor on her maang. This is emotional abuse towards the petitioner."

"From the material placed on record, it is my considered view that petitioner is subjected to domestic violence as defined under Section 3 of the Act," the magistrate further said in his 11 page order.

As compensation, Mukherjee has been asked to pay a sum of Rs 150,000 to the complainant.

Aiming to protect women from gender vulnerabilities, the Domestic Violence Act provides relief to physically or emotionally abused women while being a civil liability to men.