Crimes against Women- Why is the road to justice so long or never never…
The NCRB figures are grim ..it shows on average over 100 rapes are reported per day across our country, that’s 35000 plus reported cases per year and unreported may be several hundred thousand of domestic violence, sexual harassment of all kinds, and many more rape incidents.
Fewer than a single digit of these cases see perpetrators convicted, often after long tiring court trials. Nirbhaya which shook the conscience of the nation took over seven years to get justice served to the family. How long can crimes against women go without speedy justice and how long will it take our civic society to address the root of this problem.
The answer to the first is sooner if the Government and all stakeholders involved in filing, investigating the case, and conducting trials enforce the laws in place with speed and transparency.
The answer to the second is a long long road for which we need champions, mindset, and behavioral changes in all strata of society where gender sensitivity and gender equality are critical for the safety of women.
While the Government has in place laws like- POSH, POCSO, and schemes like Nirbhaya Fund,
Campaigns like Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, Sukanya Samriddhi, the implementation, and enforcement should be an urgent focus area. The long pandemic has only worsened the situation of violence against women.
Here are five near-term recommendations and if implementation and enforcement are at the heart of these measures, we can help deliver speedy justice.
Five near-term recommendations are as follows:
1.Police Reforms and Support :
Large scale impactful training, robust standard operating procedures for filing FIR, investigation, and charge-sheet, and above all it should be time-bound. This needs strong enforcement amongst the police force. Increasing women’s police force to levels of 30% merits considering. We all know effective police patrolling with speedy response delivers confidence for women’s safety
The fast tracks courts exist only in name, often not in place or not functioning. We need resources and oversight to ensure Fast Track Courts are functioning as planned across the states and country. Gender sensitization of judicial authorities, if required merits training
3.Special Investigation Units:
For heinous crimes to expedite the investigation process should be ensured.
4.Capacity training of Prosecutors:
Bails are easily granted without much well-supported arguments by Prosecutors. We need a strong process to ensure evidence, information, and documentation by police are submitted so that bail is not easily granted in violent crimes. Often the perpetrators on bail end up threatening victim and their families leading to serious consequences.
5.POSH & POCSO :
Implementation of these laws in its letter and spirit and consequences for not implementing these laws should be strongly penalized
In the medium term, we need infrastructural and policy changes as follows:
1.Infrastructure to ensure the safety of women in public spaces:
Street Lights, bus stands, pavements, waiting rooms, public toilets, public transport which are GPS enabled, CCTV. etc. should be safe for women. In addition, The One Stop Centres and Local Complaints Committee (LCC) should be effectively functioning in every single district. This infrastructure will deliver a level of much-needed confidence for women’s safety.
2. 24/7 Helpline and Safety Apps with speedy response:
GPS enabled and tracked for effectiveness.
3.Promote Women’s safety awareness and empowerment:
Sustained multi-year programs may include self-defense, leadership skills, educating on law and legal options about women’s safety and empowerment is essential. This has to be an ongoing agenda. Communication with men is equally important for women’s safety. We need to communicate on both gender equality and sensitivity in all the campaigns and communications, across urban & rural, sectors. Women need to be perceived as strong and equal.
States must use this fund fully and optimally to enable both infrastructure needs for women’s safety and capacity building on gender sensitivity and equality. Currently, it’s grossly underutilized.
5.Dedicated Position in the Ministry of Women & Child:
whose priority should be data-driven, solution led a review of progress on crimes against women and children. Currently, Women and Child Development (WCD) has many responsibilities, and further given law and order is state subject, the gravity of the issue of crimes against women and children does not appear to be strongly addressed in our overall system. A singular and sustained multi-year focus by Senior Government officials will enable a more streamlined and effective implementation of the process to tackle crimes against women and children. This will be a major confidence-building measure for women’s safety much like Swacch Bharat we need Suraksha Bharat
Bengaluru Political Action Committee (B.PAC), aims at advocating good governance practices and policies to improve the quality of life for all citizens of Bengaluru.