THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In an effort to ensure safety and prevent growing atrocities against women in the state, the Directorate of Women and Child Development department is gearing up to launch a grass-roots level safety audit across the state to identify unsafe places for women in Kerala.
The initiative is being launched as part of the ‘Orange the World’ campaign — a global movement spearheaded by UNESCO that aims at ending violence against women. The campaign which kicked-off on November 25 will conclude on December 10.
According to officials, the incidents of crime against women are on the rise in the state. As per the statistics, till October 2022 around 15,403 cases of crime against women were reported in the state. Of which, 4,233 were relating to cruelty of husbands/relatives. In addition, a total of 6,372 rape and molestation cases and 469 eve teasing cases were also reported during the period.
The campaign aims at building grass-roots level awareness of women’s rights, existing laws and assistance offered by the government, said a senior official of the Women and Child Development department.
“We are planning to reinvigorate Jagratha Samithis vigilant committee constituted at the local body levels to prevent violence against women. In the coming days, the samithis will carry out safety audit in their jurisdiction to identify unsafe places for women. This can be a street or location where anti-social activities are happening. Corrective measures will be taken at these hotspots. More lighting, CCTVs, and strict police patrolling will be introduced at these places,” said the official.
Activist and lawyer J Sandhya said the Jagratha Samithi initiative, launched 15 years ago, has failed terribly. “Crime against women is on the rise and will further go up in the coming years. Our system should come up with proactive measures to prevent crime against women. Responding to a crime after being committed is not the right way. The new generation is not tolerant and they are speaking out and reporting atrocities. We need a better system which is capable of preventing such crimes,” said Sandhya, who was also a former member of Kerala’s Commission for Protection of Child Rights. Several safety audits were held in the past and there is no point in doing it again and again, she said.
Advocate Indira Rajan, a member of the Kerala Women’s Rights Commission, said the Jagratha Samithis should be more proactive. The Women and Child Development department is planning to conduct more night walks from December to March.