To ensure that women-centric legislations are implemented effectively, the government has included a host of initiatives, including appointing dowry prohibition officers and protection personnel for domestic violence.
It will also encourage gender messaging in major media programmes and shows across channels in the next five years. This will entail substantive engagements with the executive producers, content writers and editors of all channels on critical gender concerns and issues. Recognition will be accorded to the programmes that air messages critical to the empowerment of women.
According to the 12th Plan document, a new scheme would be launched for appointment of sufficient number of dedicated, full time Dowry Prohibition Officers to enforce the Dowry Prevention Act.
Similarly, under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) the State governments are required to appoint Protection Officers, register Service Providers and notify medical facilities for women in distress.
However, most of the States/Union Territories have given additional charge to their existing officers to perform the duties of Protection Officer which is said to be affecting implementation of the Act. “State governments must be encouraged to appoint personnel as needed and provide support for establishing Counselling Facilities or Family Counselling Centres as well as for capacity building of the officials and infrastructural support to Protection Officers,” the 12th Plan document says.
A scheme to this effect will be introduced that would ensure appointment of sufficient number of dedicated, full time Dowry Prohibition Officers to enforce the DPA Act. Training and capacity building of law enforcement agencies and the judiciary on issues concerning dowry related harassment of women and dowry deaths will also receive attention.
Importantly, new initiatives such as One Stop Crisis Centres for providing shelter, police desk, legal, medical and counselling services and Women’s Helpline will be considered.
The Plan proposal also stresses on the need to effectively administer the laws which were conceived to promote the objective of women’s equality and gender balance in society and hopes that the State would take primary responsibility. The practice of using technology for foetal sex determination to engage in female foeticide needs to be addressed stringently. The provisions of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PC-PNDT) Act must be reviewed to make sex selection practices effectively punishable. This calls for strengthening the enforcement mechanisms for the Act and making penalties severe. Restrictions on sex detection and sex selection advertisements must be enforced, according to the document which is expected to be approved before the year end.
Registration/Regulation of sonography machines must be ensured and it must be mandatory for all registered centres to maintain all records, charts, forms, reports and consent letters for a period of two years or until permitted by the concerned appropriate authority. Decoy and sting operations must be an integral part of the strategy to catch the doctors/clinics indulging in the illegal practice of sex-determination and abortion of the female foetus, it points out.
Gender Resource Centres will be established by the State Departments for Women and Child Development in all pockets of disturbed areas on a priority basis in order to provide information and counselling for women, enable access to justice, benefit from all Central government schemes, including social protection schemes and public services.
District plans and funds will be directed towards providing sustainable livelihood opportunities, increased and equitable access to land, common property resources, improved social and physical infrastructure and governance institutions, greater coverage of MGNREGA and NRLM, and better credit opportunities for women in the disturbed areas.