Dealing with domestic violence

The emotive issue of domestic violence and the different ways in which it is tackled in the US and India was discussed at length when an NGO invited a US police chief over recently.

Called 'Strategies to combat domestic violence: Addressing the root causes', the discussion was held in collaboration with Jeevika Development Society where Hubert Art Acevedo, chief of police, Austin, Texas, USA, held forth.

"Domestic violence is not unique to India, it is a worldwide phenomenon. Being the police chief in Austin, I have to look after a population of about one million of which about 89 per cent are Asians, majority from India," Acevedo said, adding they have separate police teams that specialise in crimes against children women, elderly and immigrants.

Acevedo said his country was particularly concerned about the growing cases of violence against children and was working closely with a facility for children funded jointly by government and private players.

"It is part of an initiative to turn victims into survivors. Again, Saheli is an organisation which works hand in hand with the police, especially to help the wives who have been married to non-resident men there and later are abused or abandoned," Acevedo said.

One of the differences, Acevedo said, he had noticed between India and the US was that unlike India, the victims were not mostly women. In the US, he added, a good number of men were also victims of domestic violence.

"The police and prosecutor work in tandem and arrests are ensured. We have to keep an open mind and arrest whoever is guilty of inflicting injury on the other. Instances of men getting hurt because of a female member of the family are fairly common," he said.

He cited lack of exposure to good values as one of the main reasons behind domestic violence.

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