Govts serious about tackling domestic violence?
Only a handful of states have allocated budgets to tackle crime against women.
Ankita Chakrabarty/Zee Research Group
While a majority of states in India with high incidences of crime against women have no budgets to mitigate the recurring problem, a handful of states that have allocated budgets are happy utilizing the funds primarily for administrative purposes. Worse, some of the most crime infected states do not even implement the centrally funded rehabilitation schemes for victims of crime against women.
Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have not committed any resources for the implementation of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) since 2008-09. These three states incidentally recorded the highest percentage of either physical or sexual violence, as per National Family Health Survey (NFHS) (2005-2006) report. There is no fresh update available on the crime against women statistics at NFHS website. The PWDVA came into force in 2005-06.
The information on states’ performance in regard to domestic violence against women has been obtained by the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA) under the Right to Information Act (RTI) on an application filed by it.
Bhumika Jhamb, programme officer, CBGA and the resource person for the study said, “The RTI application was filed by us to get state wise data for analysis on an important issue of governance regarding women. The Central government has to play the pivot in funding schemes for stopping domestic violence against women. In the absence of central funding for this Act, individual states are accountable for the implementation of the Act. The fiscal situation of many states is not good.”
An interesting geographical pattern emerged from the data made available by CBGA. While all the southern states had budgeted for PWDVA, only West Bengal provided a budget for the Act among the eastern states of Bihar and Jharkhand.
In central India the only state that committed resources was Madhya Pradesh. Of the six states (leaving J&K), Delhi, Haryana and Punjab set aside resources for PWDVA. As for, the northeastern states Assam, Sikkim, Manipur and Meghalaya allocated separate budgets. For 2010-11, Karnataka topped the allocation with a Rs 7.2 crore budget while Sikkim stood at the bottom with a Rs 2 lakh budget.
Also, the common Central government funded scheme for victim rehabilitation, ‘Swadhar Scheme’, was being acted upon only in few states, as per the data of 2008-09. Latest data in this regard is not available as of now. While states like Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Sikkim had initiated some support for the rehabilitation of aggrieved persons, the ‘output data of the annual report’ of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (2008-09) pegged the number of Swadhar Shelter Homes operational across the country at 287.
Nilanju Dutta of ‘The Violence Intervention Team’, at Jagori, a Delhi-based NGO, said, “More shelter homes are required to operate by the government but this has been a slow process.”
Jhamb at CBGA lamented the lack of a clear pattern in allocations made by states under the PWDVA. She argued, “There is no proper mechanism for the allocation. There is no objective basis for arriving at how much needs to be allocated.”
Officials dealing with the situation on the ground in this regard, however, presented a rosy picture. District Probation Officer, Ernakulum district, Kerala said, “The district has government shelter homes like Mahila Mandirs and NGOs for rehabilitation of aggrieved persons. We do not face any fund situation.”
But a look at other states showed that the funds allocated were either too meager or just being spent on meeting administrative costs. Manipur initiated a State Plan Scheme, `Implementation of Domestic Violence Act`, in 2009-10, under which it allocated Rs 45,000. It spent the entire amount on holding orientation workshops for service providers, police personnel, protection officers and the district officials. Similarly states like Gujarat and Assam spent the money on awareness generation, advocacy and training.