In a welcome move that was long overdue, Women and Child Development Minister, Smriti Irani has announced that women help desks will be set up in police stations across all the police stations in the country using the Nirbhaya fund. Moreover, anti-human trafficking units will be established in every district of the country.
The Nirbhaya Fund was announced by the Central government in 2013 following the December 16, 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape incident in Delhi which shook the conscience of the entire country. The objective of the move was to support government initiatives and NGOs involved in the concern of women safety.
The Union Women and Child Development Minister took to Twitter to make this announcement. She has made it clear that the object of the move is to bolster women safety and instil a greater sense of security among them.
Smriti Irani said, “NIRBHAYA Fund will help set-up Women Help Desks in all Police Stations & Anti-Human Trafficking Units in all districts across the Nation. Initiative is an example of interdepartmental cooperation leading to effective governance under the leadership of PM @narendramodi Ji.”
Irani further stated, “Grateful to HM @AmitShah Ji & @HMOIndia for speedy intervention & ensuring efficacy in fructifying this kind of first-ever initiative to be implemented through NIRBHAYA Fund. It will go a long way in addressing women & children safety issues.” The ministry has also said that the move will go a long way in ensuring the safety of women and children.
NIRBHAYA Fund will help set-up Women Help Desks in all Police Stations & Anti-Human Trafficking Units in all districts across the Nation. Initiative is an example of interdepartmental cooperation leading to effective governance under the leadership of PM @narendramodi Ji. pic.twitter.com/gkYsSuv5z6
— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) November 2, 2019
On October 22, the Empowered Committee under the Nirbhaya framework, presided by the Women and Child Development Secretary, Rabindra Panwar, had favourably appraised a couple of proposals for the development of systems for operationalisation of Women Help Desks (WHDs) in police stations. These proposals were for expanding the Anti-Human-Trafficking-Units (AHTUs) to all districts and also identified officers for dealing with crime and policing matters concerning women and children at district and state/ Union Territory levels across India. Presently, the ATHUs are functional only in 146 districts across the country.
The Empowered Committee considered and recommended the proposal for setting up AHTUs at a cost of Rs. 100 crore for safety and security of women and girl victims of human trafficking, along with the condition that a proper monitoring and reporting mechanism should also be put in place. The Women and Child Development Ministry stated, “The 100 per cent cost of setting up of these AHTUs has been recommended to be borne by the central government under the Nirbhaya fund as per the MHA proposal. The EC has also suggested that psychosocial and legal counselling and aid should also be made available through these AHTUs to the beneficiaries.”
With the move of setting up women help desks and AHTUs is an unprecedented step and a major push for better grievance redressal and interaction with the police. This is a turning point in India’s agenda of women safety. We are finally taking a major leap in policing and grievance redressal when it comes to women safety and welfare.
This has also been clearly pointed out by the Ministry of Women and Child Development by stating, “WHDs would be gender-sensitive desks for grievance redressal of women through the policing system, as well as catalysts for improved community interaction of the police with focus on crime against women and children. They would also help create a conducive atmosphere for distressed women and girls to approach the police stations without any hesitation and fear.”
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