27-point plan to ensure women’s safety
A 27-point plan finalised by the Centre on Monday to improve administrative and policing policies, especially with regard to crimes against women, has proposed to start a countrywide three-digit number on the lines of 911, used in the US, to respond to all emergency situations. The number would be available to subscribers of all telecom service providers.
The Ministry of Home Affairs and Department of Telecom will come out with a concept note on the proposal by this month end.
Once operational, the system will work as a one-point contact to a person in distress and the call will be seamlessly transferred to the appropriate distress line. There are plans to operationalise a dedicated three-digit number 181 across the country. As of now, the women’s helpline is available in Delhi.
The Cabinet Secretariat said all the measures taken by the government would deal with changes in the police system, review of Motor Vehicles Act and measures to make responses to crimes against women efficient and sensitive.
“The secretaries of seven key ministries have been directed to personally monitor the implementation of these measures and report every month to the Cabinet Secretary and Prime Minister’s Office,” the Cabinet Secretariat statement said.
Despite earlier hurdles, the government will go ahead with name-and-shame plan displaying details of criminals convicted of crimes against women on the National Crime Records Bureau website. It will also make sure that citizens who come forward to assist a woman in distress do not face any harassment or be subject to any interrogation by police or be forced to become a witness.
Inspecting officers in all police stations across the country will also record details related to registration and investigation of complaints of crimes against women. Training courses will be organised for police personnel on gender sensitisation.
“Strict disciplinary action will be taken against any official indulging in gender bias. Action taken in this regard has to be reported at every level. If action is not found to be taken against an erring official, the supervisory officer will be held accountable,” the statement added.
The government also stressed upon the need to recruit more women in the police force. The Ministry of Home Affairs will, within a month, obtain necessary approvals to formulate a suitable proposal to initiate recruitment drive in all states.
Among major reforms, the Ministry of Women and Child Development will start a scheme to provide compensation to victims of sexual assault. It will also set up crisis response centres in select hospitals to provide psychological and other assistance to victims.
The proposed scheme will be implemented in a pilot phase in 100 districts in 2013-14.
The government will also review the existing motor vehicle regulations and has asked the ministry concerned to initiate ‘women only’ bus services. A programme to encourage more women-driven buses and taxis across the country has also been proposed by the government.
In the backdrop of the Delhi gangrape, the government is pushing for overall reforms in the public transport system. The Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, in consultation with technical experts and police representatives, will examine what should be the maximum permissible level of tinting of the side and back windscreens in public transport buses.