Updated: March 16, 2021 3:12:27 am
A Parliamentary panel has found that the lockdown led to a spurt in cases of domestic violence and trafficking, and recommended continued cash transfers and moratorium on loan repayments, among other steps, to empower women.
The report by Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs deals with “atrocities and crimes against women and children”. The committee is headed by Congress Rajya Sabha MP Anand Sharma.
“The Committee notes that there was a sudden spurt in domestic violence and trafficking of women and children during the unprecedented COVID-19 Pandemic outbreak. This was mainly due to disruption in economic activities, work from home and family spending more time at home during lockdowns. The female migrant workers and their children were trafficked and had gone missing during lockdowns,” the report said.
“The Committee observes that steps may be taken under both rural and urban employment guarantee schemes focusing especially on poor women so that cash transfers through DBT in their names could continue for a longer time. Currently, in many rural areas, a moratorium on interest rates for SHGs or loan repayments would also help because they are the women who are supporting their families in a big way. Some of these steps would raise women’s participation in employment and also lead to a reduction in violence against them in an effective manner,” it said.
The report examines in detail the reasons behind the increase in crimes against women and recommended deploying decoys to check if police are not registering FIRs.
“The Committee notes that cases of crimes against women and children are not getting registered at the police station and in time… The Committee appreciates the initiative taken by the Rajasthan Police for conducting decoy operations to check whether FIRs are being registered at Police Stations or not. The Committee strongly recommends that such decoy operations should be conducted at regular intervals throughout the country. This will create alertness amongst ground-level Police officials and will lead to the registration of more cases,” the report said.
The panel has also said in cases of delay in lodging an FIR by victims, police must seek and record the reasons for the delay in the FIR sheet.
“The Committee is constrained to note the abysmally low conviction rate in crimes against women and children which also shows a serious mismatch between the measures adopted and their implementation,” the report said recommending that MHA’s “Online Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences (ITSSO)” should be adopted and implemented by all states.
Underlining the importance of forensics in cases of rape against women and children, the Committee recommended that the Home Ministry take steps towards setting up at least one forensic laboratory in every state capital on priority.
It lamented the poor pace of setting up of fast track courts for trial of sexual offences. “The Committee is perplexed to note that against the 1023 Fast Track Special Courts only 597 Courts including 325 exclusive POCSO courts have been made operational in 24 States/UTs. This shows that although there has been an increase in cases over years, the lack of such courts will further delay the course of dispensing justice which will subsequently reduce the faith of victims in the justice delivery system,” the committee said.
It said that poor representation of women in the police force and “diversion” of Nirbhaya fund was worrying.
“The Committee notes with disappointment that women presently constitute 10.30% of the Police force. The Committee fails to understand the delay on the part of States/UTs to give adequate representation to women in Police forces… The Committee is disappointed to note that Nirbhaya Fund is continuously diverted towards other Schemes/Projects. The Committee takes a very serious note of this and strongly recommends that the Ministry should desist from sanctioning funds for such schemes from Nirbhaya Fund and adhere to the original purpose of Nirbhaya Fund,” it said.
It recommended safety in public transport as a key measure to reduce crimes against women.
“The Committee …recommends that MHA may take up the matter with the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways to prepare guidelines for mandatory installation and regular maintenance of CCTV cameras, GPS, panic button and controllers in public transport across the country in a time-bound manner. The transport system should display the helpline numbers along with the name, ID, etc. Of the operating staff,” it said.
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