Inspired by the Gujarat government, the Centre has urged all the states to provide 33 per cent reservation for women in their police forces to effectively deal with cases of sexual violence and crime against women. Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has written to Chief Ministers of all states to take inspiration from Gujarat’s recent decision to enforce 33 per cent reservation for women in the police force.
“I wrote letter to every single Chief Minister, saying that please replicate it,” Gandhi said while expressing resolve to put in place effective mechanism to deal with cases of violence against women. Last month, Gujarat chief minister Anandi Patel had announced that her government would enforce 33 per cent reservation for women in the police force as part of efforts to empower them.
Officials in the Ministry of Women and Child Development said they think increase in number of women police force would encourage the victims to lodge complaints and will also help proper investigation.
Expressing strong resolve to ensure welfare of women and children, Gandhi told PTI in an interview that her Ministry was contemplating a series of measures including plugging the loopholes in implementation of the Integrated Child Development Scheme across the country.
The Minister said the government was also mulling steps to ensure protection to the older people like in disputes relating to properties through amendment in the Domestic Violence Act or by other measures. “I feel quite strongly that older people have no protection from their families,” said Gandhi while giving examples of harassment of the older people by their sons and daughter-in-laws in cases relating to property disputes.
The Minister said government does not want to amend the Domestic Violence Act in such a way that it loses the effectiveness to protect the daughter-in-laws from any sort of violence. But, she added that at the same time, government was looking at protecting the older people as well. The current law was enacted primarily to provide protection to the wife or female live-in partner from domestic violence at the hands of the husband or male live-in partner or his relatives. The law also extends its protection to women living in a household such as sisters, widows or mothers.
Listing her priorities, Gandhi said her Ministry was also determined to make National Commission of Women (NCW) on par with National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to effectively deal with cases of violence and harassment of women. As per the proposal, she said ignoring summons of NCW may land the offenders in jail.
“No body was coming to the Commission. It was just the women who were complaining. As per the proposal, NCW will be given exactly the same rights as NHRC,” she said, adding, the Ministry has also proposed appointment of judge or lawyer as chief of NCW instead of current practice of “political appointees” heading it.
“Unless NCW gets teeth, women will not get justice…It would be powerful enough to be one more defence mechanism that women can use,” said Gandhi.