More often than not one hears distressing news about the increase in crimes against women.
The Minister of Women and Child Development informed parliament, presently in its monsoon session, that National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data on crime against women, which is available for the year up to 2020, there were 3,71,503 cases of crime reported against women.
Majority of cases under crime against women under Indian Penal Code (IPC) or Special Local Laws (SLL) were registered under ‘Cruelty by Husband or His Relatives’, ‘Assault on Women with Intent to Outrage her Modesty’, ‘Kidnapping & Abduction of Women’ and ‘Rape’, etc.
The Constitution guarantees the right to equality and also provides for positive interventions by the State to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and to ensure their holistic empowerment. Keeping in mind the vision articulated in Constitutional provisions, there has been enactment of various legislation such as the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 which addresses the issue of gender inequality, discrimination and violence faced by women.
The laws seek to provide relief to women in the form of protection order, residence order, monetary relief, custody order and compensation orders. Breach of any protection order is a criminal offence.
It is also not just confined to domestic violence but there have been increased incidents of rape, harassment and other such undesirable acts against women.
It is not the case that anticipation or forewarning against the rise were not there. Most rapes are perpetrated by people known to the victim but there are hardly befitting punishments. Most of the rapes are not reported for the reasons well known and also specifically documented. One does not know exactly how many women were raped or trafficked? One does not know how many were married forcibly and under-aged in desperation to see them safe and fed.
Orderly creation of a support infrastructure like easy access helplines, secure shelter services with enabling cultures and sensitisation of people against violence needed to be created.
Awareness need to created about various schemes and projects including One Stop Centres (OSCs) for violence affected women, Women Helplines (WHL), Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP), Swadhar Grehs for women facing difficult circumstances or destitution, Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) which is a pan-India single number (112) etc.