Taking cognisance of the increasing number of rapes in Punjab, the National Commission for Women (NCW) has asked the authorities there for an action taken report on all cases filed so far. The NCW will send a team to that State to discuss the issue with government officials and come up with solutions, NCW Chairperson Mamta Sharma told The Hindu, on the sidelines of a conference at Pondicherry University on Friday. As women lacked awareness of their rights, the NCW would release in January a booklet, which would have information on women’s rights, the various laws to protect them, self-defence and schemes meant to protect their rights, Ms. Sharma said. The booklet would be released in Hindi, English, Tamil, Urdu, Marathi and Punjabi.

The NCW had also conducted the Mahila Adhikar Abhiyan campaign in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Kerala to educate rural women on their rights.

Many States, Ms. Sharma pointed out, did not realise the importance of forming a State commission. To make out its case, the NCW had written to the Chief Ministers of States that did not have a women’s commission. It would work out a sensitisation programme for police, since they played a vital role in the protection of women’s rights.

She said the number of women affected by domestic violence was increasing, and dowry remained the main cause. There were complaints of women misusing Section 498 (A) of the Indian Penal Code (meant to prevent dowry harassment), but their numbers were negligible.

Now, the NCW was focussing on sensitising tribal women to their rights. The two-day conference on ‘Empowerment of Women in the Era of Globalisation: Challenges and Opportunities’ was organised by the Centre for Women’s Studies, which forms part of the School of Social Sciences and International Studies.

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