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33% reservation for women in police forces, Maneka Gandhi urges state governments

Sunday, 3 August 2014 - 12:27pm IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI

Inspired by Gujarat government, the Centre has urged all the states to provide 33% reservation for women in their police forces to effectively deal with cases of sexual violence and crime against women.

Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has written to Chief Ministers of all states to take inspiration from Gujarat's recent decision to enforce 33% reservation for women in the police force.

"I wrote letter to every single Chief Minister, saying that please replicate it," Gandhi said while expressing resolve to put in place effective mechanism to deal with cases of violence against women.

Last month, Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel had announced that her government would enforce 33% reservation for women in the police force as part of efforts to empower them.

Officials in the Ministry of Women and Child Development said they think increase in number of women police force would encourage the victims to lodge complaints and will also help proper investigation.

Expressing strong resolve to ensure welfare of women and children, Gandhi told PTI in an interview that her Ministry was contemplating a series of measures including plugging the loopholes in implementation of the Integrated Child Development Scheme across the country.

The Minister said the government was also mulling steps to ensure protection to the older people like in disputes relating to properties through amendment in the Domestic Violence Act or by other measures.

"I feel quite strongly that older people have no protection from their families," said Gandhi while giving examples of harassment of the older people by their sons and daughter-in-laws in cases relating to property disputes.

The Minister said government does not want to amend the Domestic Violence Act in such a way that it loses the effectiveness to protect the daughter-in-laws from any sort of violence. But, she added that at the same time, government was looking at protecting the older people as well.

The current law was enacted primarily to provide protection to the wife or female live-in partner from domestic violence at the hands of the husband or male live-in partner or his relatives. The law also extends its protection to women living in a household such as sisters, widows or mothers.

Listing her priorities, Gandhi said her Ministry was also determined to make National Commission of Women (NCW) on par with National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to effectively deal with cases of violence and harassment of women.

As per the proposal, she said ignoring summons of NCW may land the offenders in jail.

"No body was coming to the Commission. It was just the women who were complaining. As per the proposal, NCW will be given exactly the same rights as NHRC," she said, adding, the Ministry has also proposed appointment of judge or lawyer as chief of NCW instead of current practice of "political appointees" heading it.

"Unless NCW gets teeth, women will not get justice... It would be powerful enough to be one more defence mechanism that women can use," said Gandhi indicating her displeasure over functioning of the statutory body for women.

The Minister said she wants NCW to be an effective body so that it can recommend jail and refer cases to court.

To deal with complaints of women from across the country, Gandhi said she has issued direction to set up a grievance cell in the Ministry which will help women in distress and interact with state police to investigate the cases.

Gandhi said her Ministry was also planning to streamline the functioning of Anganwadis across the country which provide services like post natal care and supplementary nutrition to both children below the age of six as well as pregnant women under Integrated Child Development Services.

There are about 14 lakh Anganwadi centres across the country.

"This is one system that really needs to be worked out because they could be the most powerful weapons that we have against malnutrition and for baby care," she said.

The Minister said there are cases of alleged irregularities such as fake tenders and substandard food being provided by Anganwadis and there was a need to put in place a mechanism to check such wrong-doings. 




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