Police commissioners and SPs made responsible for calls received in their jurisdictions
The toll-free number,1091,meant to help women in distress,is now functional across the state. Post the Guwahati molestation incident,the plan to have the number accessible to women across Maharashtra was mooted in the Legislative Council. The move was necessitated given the rise in crime against women in the state. Of the 45 police units in the state,32 have a person each attending to these calls.
The initiative was proposed in October last year but was implemented only in Mumbai and Thane. Also,the number was different for these cities. Post the tie-up with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) recently,1091 was allotted as a toll-free number for the entire state.
The number was mooted as per the recommendations by a panel headed by retired justice Chandrashekhar Dharmadhikari. The panel had also suggested amendments to Sections 354 (molestation) and 509 (act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the IPC. In the recent session,home minister RR Patil assured the Council that necessary steps have been taken to protect womens rights in the state and ensure justice for victims.
Deputy commissioner of Women and Child Welfare Department Ravi Patil said the number would help register more cases and the department will help by intervening and suggesting action. The Women and Child Welfare Department will be in touch with the Home Department for any assistance after such incidents are reported. We can provide the list of counselling centres,shelter homes and short-stay homes to the department. This information has also been passed on to the Inspector General (Protection of Women), said Patil.
According to the Home Department,as soon as the call is received,it is directed to the respective police station in the district. The Superintendents of Police and commissioners of the districts are responsible for cases in their jurisdiction.
B Kanakaratnam,CID (crime) with additional charge of IG (POW) said the initiative was a welcome move,especially in urban areas. The Home Department was doing its best to spread awareness regarding the number,he added. We will maintain data and this will help bring down crime figures, he said.
One can dial the number directly from landline,or prefix the STD code of the respective town or city to the if calling from number if calling from a mobile phone.
Recently,the department started six anti-trafficking units and there is a proposal to have six more. All these initiatives are aimed at bringing down crimes against women in the state, Kanakaratnam said.
According to the 2010-11 economic survey,of the total crimes against women registered,46.2 per cent were regarding cruelty by husbands and relatives. It also highlighted that women continued to suffer despite legal safeguards being in place. Statistics show that at 7.4 pre cent,Maharashtra has the fifth highest rate of crime against women in the country. Andhra Pradesh tops the list at 12.5 per cent,followed by Uttar Pradesh at 11.4 per cent,West Bengal at 11.4 per cent and Madhya Pradesh at 7.8 per cent.
Activists have welcomed the initiatives. We welcome the decision,especially at a time when violence against women is escalating. It will be helpful because even women are coming forward to report such cases, said activist Kiran Moghe.