GUWAHATI, Sept 11 - With Assam making headlines for all the wrong reasons in matters related to crimes against women, a number of women�s organisations and activists today staged protest at Dispur Lastgate, asking Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to ensure women�s security in the State.
�The rate of crimes against women for Assam was reported as the second highest after Delhi in 2014. The NCRB data of 2016 also reported that Assam is one of States which top in trafficking of women and children,� the protesting organisations � All India Democratic Women�s Association (AIDWA), Pragatisheel Nari Sanstha, North East Network and Assam Mahila Sangha � stated during the protest.
Referring to the absence of minimum measures like a functional helpline for women, and demanding a full-time independent cadre of protection officers to act under the Domestic Violence Act, besides calling for shelter homes and medical facilities for women, the protesters urged the Chief Minister to declare a �zero tolerance� policy towards crimes against women.
�Between 2010 and 2012, Assam, as per media reports, had registered 358 cases of domestic violence. Very recently, Karbi Anglong witnessed a brutal rape and murder of a young woman by seven perpetrators. In 2016, another young woman was raped and murdered in Noonmati here. Likewise, two girls, in separate incidents in Lakhipur, Goalpara, and Sonapur, Kamrup, were raped and killed in 2016-17,� the organisations said expressing serious concern over the deteriorating situation.
Referring to the gruesome incidents like the murder of a college girl in Nagaon by her male friend in October last year, the murder of an elderly woman allegedly by her son in Guwahati in September 2016, the murder of a woman and two children by their father in Bongaigaon in February this year, the protesters said that such cases were just the tip of the iceberg, as a large number of such cases go unreported.
Further, as organised crimes like witch hunting present a negative image of the State, the intervention of the authorities is a must. �The cases related to the so-called witch hunting come to light very often, which needs serious intervention. The situation in the bordering areas can also be gauged from the fact that around 138 cases of crimes against women have been registered in Dhubri district this year so far,� Anurita Pathak Hazarika of NEN said.
A survey conducted by NEN in 2014 revealed that 72.5 per cent women faced sexual harassment or violence in Guwahati city. Further, the National Family Health Survey data also reveal that spousal violence in Assam is also above the national average.
�The public space is still unsafe for women even in a city like Guwahati. Even functional streetlights remain a long-pending demand. Further, setting up of Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) and Local Complaints Committee (LCC) as per the Act with immediate effect for Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal), 2013, and implementation of the Assam Witch-hunting Act (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Act 2015 are the areas the State still needs to work on,� she pointed out.
A number of other demands, like rehabilitation of victims of violence and trafficking, medical treatment guidelines for acid attack victims, etc., were also raised by the protestors.