Govt yet to take concrete steps

Govt yet to take concrete steps

A year after the brutal gang-rape of  the 23-year-old student inside a moving bus, the government is yet to take concrete steps on important aspects of women’s safety such as using Rs 100 crore Nirbhaya fund to improve women’s security or increasing their numbers in the police force, which stands at the dismal six per cent.

Many feel improved night bus services and instructions to hospitals to treat victims of sex crimes without waiting for police would count for little.

“What we actually need is a 24X7 public transport system rather than fixing GPS on busses. We also need rape crises centres and rehabilitation fund for survivors,” Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of All India Progressive Women’s Association, told Deccan Herald.
The Nirbhaya Fund was announced in February’s budget, but wrangling among several ministries to control the money has lead to a schism.

However, a process of its utilisation started last month when ministries like home and transport submitted proposals.

The fund was part of the government’s measures to improve women’s security, including amendment to the criminal law that ensures offenders get not less than 20 years of rigorous imprisonment, extension of the same to life or even capital punishment for repeat offenders.

Two commissions led by Justice J S Verma and  Usha Verma had also been set up to consider various aspects of crimes against women.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs recently faulted the home ministry for doing precious little to improve recruitment of women to the police force, which, it noted, should be 33 per cent instead of the current six per cent.

India has around 15.85 lakh police personnel out of which only 95,000 are women. Activists feel increasing women’s presence in police stations would provide comfort to those approaching them for help.

“Just having more women in police stations would not help if there is no change in the attitude of police towards women,” Krishnan said. 

In April, the home ministry issued an advisory to the states to increase women’s presence in the police force to 33 per cent, though a similar advisory four years ago went largely unheeded. As for increasing women personnel in paramilitary forces, the ministry has said that difficulties in terms of operational terrain and harsh working conditions are preventing it from having five per cent of women in the forces.

Rejecting that view, the Parliamentary Panel has maintained that women can work on par with men in all kinds of work conditions and asked the ministry to change the recruitment rules to facilitate women’s entry.

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