GUWAHATI, July 13 - Expressing concern over the growing incidence of crimes against women in public and private places in the State, several women organisations have urged Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to adopt a zero tolerance policy towards violence against women.
The women organisations and individual activists stated that cases of domestic violence, acid attack, molestation, stalking and propositioning women in streets by men in towns and cities of Assam needed immediate attention from the authorities concerned, along with measures for proper implementation of pro-women laws. Pro-women laws are yet to be properly absorbed by the State and local level government staff and officers.
Representatives of All India Democratic Women�s Association, Asom Mahila Sangha, North East Network, Sadou Asom Pragatishil Nari Sanstha, YWCA, journalist Maini Mahanta and acid attack victim Nishamoni Bora met the Chief Minister on Saturday and apprised him of the emerging concerns in the State on the issue.
�The crime rate against women in Assam was 123.4 per cent in 2014 and the second highest after Delhi. The national average is 56.3 per cent, according to the NCRB in 2014. Again, a survey by the North East Network in 2014 revealed that 72.5 per cent women face sexual harassment/violence in Guwahati city. The National Family Heath Survey data also reveal that spousal violence in Assam is above the national average,� stated the memorandum.
To make the public spaces safer for women, the organisations appealed for proper functioning of the women�s helpline, 1091, to respond to emergency situations. It also suggested fasttrack courts and speedy trials of all crimes against women, installation of streetlights in every lane, by-lane and street in the city.
Similarly, to deal with domestic violence cases also, a call was made to appoint full-time independent cadre of Protection Officers (POs) at the district level and block levels, and notify shelter homes and medical facilities across all districts of Assam under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA). A Statewide plan of action was also suggested to implement the PWDVA with adequate budgetary allocations.
Highlighting the urgent need to implement the Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Act 2015, Sonowal was urged to expedite the process for the President of India�s assent on the Bill and appoint a nodal agency for its effective implementation and monitoring. The need of notifying a nodal agency for implementation and monitoring of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Act 2013 was also pinpointed by the delegation.