GoI unveils action plan to combat crimes against women

Bhubaneswar: Apart from the Ordinance promulgated by the President on February 3, 2013 which deals with the amendments in the criminal law, the Union Government has initiated a time bound action plan to combat crimes against women. A number of steps have been outlined to improve and strengthen the police and administrative system to ensure that crimes against the women are prevented through quick action, a gender sensitive response mechanism and greater accountability of the enforcement agencies.
The steps outlined include the following:

1. NCRB will compile a database of persons convicted of criminal offences. The details of criminals convicted of crimes against women will be displayed on their website.

2. Action will be taken to provide the facility of registering an FIR in any police station irrespective of the jurisdiction or area of the time. The FIR may thereafter be transferred to the concerned police station for investigation. This will pertain to serious crimes including issues against women.

3. It is important that citizens should not face any harassment when they come forward to assist women in distress. For this, such citizens should be protected to enable them to freely report a crime and assist the victim/police without being subjected to any interrogation or being forced to become witnesses.

4. ‘Women Only’ buses should be pressed into service. A programme is proposed to be undertaken for encouraging more women driven buses/taxis all over the country.

5. It has been reported that in some instances vehicles have factory-fitted glasses wherein the tint is more than the permissible limit. Secretary, MoRT&H, in consultation with technical experts and police representatives, will examine what should be the maximum permissible level of tinting in the glasses in public transport buses. The use of curtains will be reviewed taking into account the need for passenger comfort and visibility required for security purposes. MoRT&H proposes to appropriately revise the standards and ensure compliance by the manufacturers of these buses.

6. At the time of inspection of police stations, it should be mandatory for the inspecting officer to specifically record his findings regarding the gender sensitivity of the personnel posted in the police station as well as the record of the police station/SHO in registering/investigating complaints of crimes against women, and for checking whether women are being discouraged from lodging complaints in the police stations.

7. Strict action will be taken against police personnel and officers found to be either displaying bias against women or neglecting their supervisory responsibilities in this regard.

8. There is a continual need for gender sensitization among the police force, particularly at the level of the constabulary on beat duty or at the police stations. There is need for impressing that there has to be a complete cessation of gender insensitive comments. For this, training courses need to be organized on a regular basis by the police. Strict disciplinary action will be taken against any official indulging in gender bias. Action taken in this regard has to be reported at every level. If action is not found to be taken against an erring official, the supervisory officer will be held accountable. Instructions in this regard will be issued and compliance ensured.

9. At all levels, it will be made mandatory for a reporting officer to comment upon on the gender sensitivity of the police personnel reported upon in the Annual Performance Appraisal Report. It will be emphasized and ensured that remarks in this regard are based on specific instances of behavior and are not reduced to a ritualistic yes/no. When considering postings or promotions of police personnel, the attitude towards women should specifically be taken into account.

10. There is an imperative need to recruit more women in the police force. Women will need to be recruited in large numbers in the States as well. In order to incentivize the States in this regard, MHA will formulate a suitable proposal/scheme within four weeks and obtain necessary approvals.

11. Department of Women and Child Development will implement a scheme to provide compensation to victims of sexual assault and also a scheme for setting up Crisis Response Centres in select hospitals to provide psychological and other assistance to the victims of sexual assault. The proposed scheme will be implemented in a pilot phase in 100 districts from 2013-13. The Government proposes to put in place a countrywide three-digit number (such as 100) to respond to all emergency situations. This would be similar like 911 or 990 Emergency Management Systems in vogue in many developed countries. Such a service would be available to subscribers of all telecom service providers as at present there are different telephone numbers being used for responding to different situations or target groups. It is, therefore, proposed to have a system where there is a one point of contact available to a person in distress of any kind. Also, once a call is made to this number, the caller should not be asked to contact some other special/emergency number. Instead, the call should seamlessly be transferred from the single point of contact to the appropriate distress line. Ministry of Home Affairs in coordination with the D/o Telecom will, by the end of February 2013, come up with a basic concept note on how the system will be established and will operate.

12. In addition to the general emergency response helpline, there would be a helpline dedicated to responding to women in distress. This helpline should have a unique three digit number across the country. For this purpose, the number 181 may be operationalized all over the country.

13. The negative, stereotyped and/or indecent portrayal of women in movies, television shows and advertisements has been a matter of concern for long. It would be helpful if all stakeholders were to be continuously engaged with in this regard. There is also a need to have a sustained media campaign of public interest advertisements.

14. The role of value education in schools is recognized as being very important. However, merely prescribing it in the curricula/syllabus is not adequate. Teachers should be given training in value education. Sustained awareness campaigns on gender equality need to be undertaken in all schools and colleges and gender modules need to be integrated in the curriculum at every level.

15. It would be useful to impart training to girls in educational institutions in self defence/martial arts.