More than four years since the horrific gang-rape and murder of a student in Delhi, opinion remains near unanimous on the need to enhance the safety of women. But State governments are yet to take concrete measures towards that objective. A case in point is the utilisation of the Rs 3,000 crore Nirbhaya Fund. To avail the fund, States have to come up with proposals that have a 360-degree approach, to fight rape and other crimes against women. But only a few have bothered to make such proposals. Some have accessed the fund, but implementation is tardy.
Among southern States, Tamil Nadu has not even sent a proposal to the Centre. It claims it would do so next month. Andhra Pradesh sent it last year and is looking to use the proceeds on a pilot project to be implemented in a few locations. Odisha is awaiting clearance of its proposal, while Karnataka is in a tussle with the Centre over compensation for rape victims.
The JS Verma Committee, set up after the Nirbhaya rape, made sweeping recommendations like CCTV surveillance of police stations and public transport, improving legal practices like the police’s response to victims and gender sensitisation of curriculum. While there has been some movement on aspects like purchase of equipment, basic issues like gender sensitisation have not been touched.
The only thing Telangana has to show on gender sensitisation is a book titled ‘Towards a World of Equals’. Campuses are still debating whether they should bring in a gender-sensitive curriculum.
Karnataka’s CCTV surveillance covers only 500 out of its 6,211 buses. Not all police stations are CCTV-equipped either. Its E-FIRS system is hampered by server problems. Meanwhile, the number of rape cases increased from 709 in 2012 to 1,004 in 2015 while convictions languish in the double digits.
In Andhra Pradesh, one-stop crisis centres have been set up in the 13 districts but they remain under-staffed. Only 40 per cent of police stations have CCTVs and only three cities — Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam and Rajama-hendravaram — have anti-harassment police teams.
In almost all States, sensitisation to treatment of victims is tardy. Just one instance: the two-finger test, an ancient method used to determine whether a woman has been raped, is still used though the apex court ordered a stop to it.