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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A pipeline full of good safety ideas

In May 2013, a new PIL was filed by activist Nandita Dhar, seeking court intervention to curb incidents of harassment of women.

Written by Aneesha Mathur | New Delhi | Published: December 8, 2014 2:32:11 am

In December 2012, the Delhi High Court took up the December 16 gangrape case suo motu and issued a slew of directions to government agencies for protection of women and for aiding victims of violent crimes. In May 2013, a new PIL was filed by activist Nandita Dhar, seeking court intervention to curb incidents of harassment of women. The two PILs come up for hearing every few weeks and, in the last hearing in November, Justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Siddharth Mridul accused the Delhi Police and Home Ministry of merely “shuffling files”.

Apart from recruitment of personnel, ordered in the suo motu case, police were also asked to “engage sociologists/analysts to study the data revealed by crime-mapping. Apart from pockets of crimes against women, police data has also revealed shocking statistics of sexual crimes committed by family members and known persons. Police have identified danger areas where incidents occur and patrolling in such areas has been increased. Women’s helpdesks have been set up in most police stations and the one-stop crisis centres where police, counsellors and medical help can be given are in the pipeline.

Government agencies
CCTV cameras and streetlights were suggested as the solution for street harassment and rise in petty crimes. However, installation of the streetlights and cameras are still “in the pipeline”. Public awareness-building campaigns and advertisements are being considered.

Forensic labs
The lack of adequate forensic labs was indicated as the most important reason for delays in criminal trials. The government had in 2013 mooted the idea of creating basic forensic labs in some government hospitals to analyse samples taken from rape victims. The idea was later dismissed as adequate equipment and personnel were not available.

Compensation to victims
Medical expenses and other financial damages to a rape victim were taken seriously by all authorities concerned, with the Central government announcing a huge corpus of funds — the “Nirbhaya fund” — to give compensation to the victims. Delay in disbursing the funds, however, prompted the High Court to step in several times, to direct the Delhi Legal Aid Services and other government departments to speed up the process. The government had initially released Rs 1 crore in September, of which over Rs 70 lakh had been paid out till mid-November.

Hospitals and crisis centres
Rape crisis centres, where the investigating officer can come to the hospital to take the statement of the victim, have been set up at three Delhi government hospitals — Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, Sanjay Gandhi Memorial and GTB Hospital — as a pilot project. The government has proposed that victims may be taken to the hospital instead of the police station, and statements can be recorded in the hospital.

Public awareness camps, advertisements on billboards and advertisements on sexual offence laws have been put up across the city. Gender sensitisation training is also being conducted for police personnel, judges and other officials concerned.

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