Kerala: Crime mapping to help women in distress

Her husband who doubted her, never allowed her to even step out of the house.
Illus: Express
Illus: Express

Kudumbashree will launch the exercise in 152 panchayats in Kerala this month to prevent crimes against women. Mission’s Snehitha help desk received 1,140 such cases from 2019 to July this year, in T’puram alone

A few days back, Asha (name changed) approached Snehitha, the Kudumbashree Mission’s gender help desk in the capital city accompanied by her three children. She was seeking help as she was subjected to domestic violence by her husband, an alcoholic. Her husband who doubted her, never allowed her to even step out of the house.

Theirs was a love marriage. So Asha couldn’t return to her hearing-impaired mother. Her father had died long ago. Although Asha had been suffering silently all these years, she sought help after her husband beat her up mercilessly and broke her hand. Having no money even to pay the autorickshaw fare, Asha sold the last pieces of jewellery she owned and rushed to Snehitha. She was counselled and taken to the protection officer. Based on her statement, legal action was taken against her husband.

Many such crimes against women and children have been brought to the forefront through Snehitha desks functioning in various districts across the state. To identify and prevent crimes against women and children, the Kudumbashree is launching crime mapping in 152 panchayats across the state this month. The decision comes in the wake of increasing crimes against women and children, even during the pandemic.

“Several years ago, Kudumbashree carried out crime mapping in select panchayats in the state. This led to the setting up of the Snehitha gender help desk with the service of community counsellors. The help desk has been successful in reaching out to women and children in distress in the state over time. This year, we plan to carry out crime mapping in more panchayats so that crimes against women can be addressed more effectively,” said Sindhu V, state programme manager, Gender, Kudumbashree.

Snehitha counsellors say that many times, the victims tend to ignore the first signs of domestic violence and stay put, hoping things will improve. “They refuse to tell anyone or seek help because of the fear of public scrutiny or reluctance to leave their husbands thinking about the children. Hence, they tend to bear it silently even when horrendous sexual violence is involved. During counselling, we come to know about the mental trauma that they have been facing due to this,” says Anitha Kumari S, a counsellor. 

Crime mapping will help identify the types of crimes more effectively and help the victims, said Anitha. The mapping will be done in 152 panchayats (one panchayat in each block) with the help of the resource persons appointed at the Kudumbashree Area Development Society (ADS) level and. Further interventions will be done at the Community Development Society (CDS) level on the basis of data collected.The planning has been completed and the tools for the mapping are being prepared.

“These tools will help identify the crime hotspots, different types of crime and their occurrence and also the patterns, so as to analyse the causes of the crimes and come up with solutions to tackle and prevent them. The consolidated report will be submitted to the government, which will formulate action plans with the help of various departments to prevent crimes against women,” said Sindhu. She said the mission is planning to extend crime mapping to more panchayats next year.

Apart from crime mapping, activity-oriented interventions regarding gender equality and rights are also being planned by Kudumbashree which will be taken up by the groups concerned every month. Gender clubs have been constituted at schools and colleges. Gender training at Balasabhas, which will include games and activities, will begin soon. Discussions on gender issues will also be held with the family members at the ADS level, to change the attitude of society towards women, she said. 

Alarming numbers
In T’puram, Snehitha received 627 such cases from 2019 to 2020 March which included 121 cases of domestic violence, two cheating cases and 55 cases involving other family problems. From April 2020 till July this year, 513 cases had been received of which 128 were domestic violence cases.  In Kochi, 259 cases of domestic violence were received by Snehitha last year while this year so far, 74 cases have been received.

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The New Indian Express