Demands for death penalty to rapists and sweeping police reforms, including fifty percent all-women police stations, reverberated during the discussions at Congress Chintan Shivir coming in the backdrop of the barbaric Delhi gang-rape incident.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh noted suggestions from the members for around 30 minutes at the session on Women Empowerment, which was skipped by Rahul Gandhi.
Participating in the discussion, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh rued that out of 15 thousand police stations in the country, there were only 400 women police stations and 40 per cent of these are concentrated only in Andhra Pradesh, which brings down the ratio further in other parts of the country.
While Ramesh demanded that the number of women police stations should be 50 percent of the total, which comes to 7500, AICC secretary Praveen Davar suggested that instead all police stations in the country should have at least 25 per cent women in constabulary and in officer category.
Sources said that a number of participants, mainly the women members raised the demand for capital punishment to rapist in rare cases. Young Maharashtra MP Priya Dutt said that Congress-ruled states should set an example by enacting a policy for protection of street children and women without shelter as they are most prone to sexual harassment.
Dutt also wanted separate treatment to women issues concerning rural and urban areas saying there is no generic solution to the problems and there is a need to address them specifically.
Yesterday, Congress President Sonia Gandhi had participated in the discussions asking mothers to teach their sons to respect women at home and in neighbourhood.
Making a strong pitch for police reforms, Anil Shastri said that politicians should be included when any such commission is set up to bring police reforms as they are more connected with people in comparison to retired police officers.
Rahul Gandhi, who attended the discussions in other sub-groups, could not attend this one.
Union Minister D Purandeshwari was also critical of Mahila Congress for not taking up the issue of Delhi gang-rape promptly and said initiative should have been taken much before others raised it.
Dutte also wanted training module for Mahila Congress on the line of Youth Congress and NSUI so that women members of the party can become more active.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, who spoke for around 40 minutes, focussed on his government's schemes in the state including bank loans to women.
Davar said that right to have a child should be with the woman and not her husband or mother-in law.
Sushila Tiriya raised the issue of malnutrition among tribal women.
The base paper for discussions also had a proposal to have Women Grievance Redressal Committees at district, state and national level keeping in mind the increasing incidents of violence against women.