Proposes lodging of FIR in any police station; nationwide emergency response number; making identity of rapist public; strengthening public transport system

After having made rape laws more stringent, the Centre on Monday came out with a time-bound action plan to combat crimes against women. It proposed allowing registration of FIR in any police station and other police reforms; introducing a nationwide three-digit emergency response number; making the identity of those convicted for crime against women public; and promoting women to drive public transport vehicles to ensure safer journey for women.

Conceding the long-standing demand of social activists, women’s rights groups and civil society, the government has decided to facilitate registering an FIR in any police station, irrespective of the jurisdiction or area of the crime, and the FIR may thereafter be transferred to the police station concerned for investigation.

Similarly, as reported by The Hindu earlier, one of the steps approved by the government is the ‘name and shame’ policy where the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), under the Ministry of Home Affairs, will compile a database of persons convicted of criminal offences and all details of criminals convicted of crimes against women will be displayed on the NCRB website.

The government has also began working on providing a countrywide three-digit number, like 911 in the U.S., to respond to all emergency situations, be it related to police, fire, medical emergency or natural disaster. As already reported in The Hindu, the new service would be available to subscribers of all telecom service providers so that one point of contact is available to a person in distress of any kind.

“Under the new system, a call would be seamlessly transferred from the single point of contact to the appropriate distress line such as police, fire or ambulance service. By this month-end, the MHA in coordination with the Telecom Department will come up with a basic concept note on how the system would be established and operate. Apart from the general emergency response helpline, there would also be another three-digit nationwide helpline dedicated to responding to women in distress,” a senior officer said.

Similarly, after making motor vehicle regulations more stringent to rein in errant bus-owners and streamline public transport in the country, the government has also decided to promote ‘women only’ service to encourage more women-driven buses and taxis. The Road Transport Ministry will talk to the auto industry for a possible ban on factory-fitted tinted glass on vehicles, while complete verification for crew members of public transport vehicle will be made mandatory.

Police reforms

The Centre has also decided to carry out major police reforms where citizens who come forward to assist women in distress would not face any police harassment, while police officers and other personnel would be specially trained for gender sensitivity and strict action would be taken against police personnel and officers found to be either displaying bias against women or neglecting their supervisory responsibilities. It has also been decided to recruit more women in the police force besides having woman police personnel in PCR vans, particularly those deployed in the vicinity of educational institutions, cinema halls, malls and markets, as also the routes frequented by women employees of BPOs returning from work at night.

In another major initiative, it has been decided that the Department of Women and Child Development will implement a scheme to provide compensation to victims of sexual assault and also run a scheme for setting up ‘crisis response centres’ in select hospitals to provide psychological and other assistance to the victims. This scheme will be implemented in a pilot phase in 100 districts in the next financial year.

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