The Kochi Corporation will launch an exclusive committee to address women’s issues on Monday. Union Minister K V Thomas will officially inaugurate the panel at the Town Hall on Monday.
The committee will be named ‘Jagratha Samithi’ (vigilance committee). The State Women’s Commission directed the local bodies to set up the vigilance committees to ensure the safety of women in the city.
The launch of the committee comes at a time when the city is turning increasingly notorious for crimes against women. Recently, an army man was arrested for molesting a 20-year-old woman at Ernakulam South Railway Station. A private bus employee was booked recently after he attempted to abuse a college student. Also, two police officials came under the scanner for crime against women in the city.
The Jagratha Samithi is a decentralised concept, branching its roots to even the division-levels.
Women, in case of distress, can contact the samithi for help and it will provide all legal or non-legal support like counselling.
A helpline number will be announced with the inauguration. The samithi will handle the case and will be helped by the police and judicial authorities for its functioning.
The Jagratha Samithi will consist of 11 members with Mayor Tony Chammany as the chairman. At the Corporation-level, apart from the Mayor, the Samithi will comprise Deputy Mayor B Bhadra as deputy chairperson and other members including Welfare Standing Committee chairperson Soumini Jain, City Police Commissioner K G James and St Teresa’s professor and social worker Nirmala Padmanabhan.
The committee will also include a legal expert, a doctor, a councillor, a district-level official of the Social Justice Department. Each councillor will be asked to set up Jagratha Samithis at the division-level with respective police authorities and other officials in the team.
Various awareness programmes are also under way as part of the Samithis functioning.
Crime data with the police shows that Kochi is one of the worst places for women to be born and brought up in. More than 600 cases were registered in the past nine months which is only slightly less than what it was last year. Every month, about 70 cases are reported under various categories, like molestation, rape or eve-teasing, which can be collectively called as ‘crimes against women’. That proves that almost three women are abused every 24 hours in and around the city.
However, the Corporation faced the heat from councillors in the council meeting on Friday for not duly responding against the recent attack against a traffic warden.
“The one who attacked the women traffic warden is using his political connection to evade the law. She is a citizen, who resides in the Mayor’s own constituency, yet the Corporation has not come out in public and made a statement against the attack. This is the Corporation which says it will set up a ‘Jagratha Samithi’ for women,” said Opposition councillor Shafeek.