Time-bound action plan unveiled to help women in distress



New Delhi: Setting up crisis response centres in 100 districts and removing jurisdiction boundaries for police in registering criminal cases are part of a time-bound action plan unveiled by the government on Monday to help women in distress and to deal with crime against them.

The government also proposes to put in place a countrywide three-digit number (such as 100) to respond to all emergency situations. This would be on the lines of 911 or 990 Emergency Management Systems in vogue in many developed countries.

Decisions in this regard were taken by the government following a series of meetings held by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth after public protests in the wake of gang-rape of a girl in Delhi last month.

Secretaries of seven key ministries have been directed to personally monitor the implementation of these measures and report every month to the Cabinet Secretary and the Prime Minister's Office.

The measures outlined deal with changes in the police system, a review of the Motor Vehicles Act, measures to make responses to crimes against women in efficient and sensitive manner and greater accountability of the enforcement agencies.

The Department of Women and Child Development will implement a scheme to provide compensation to victims of sexual assault and also a scheme for setting up Crisis Response Centres in select hospitals to provide psychological and other assistance to the victims of sexual assault.

The proposed scheme will be implemented in a pilot phase in 100 districts from 2013-14, an official release said.

Action will be taken to provide facility of registering an FIR in any police station irrespective of the jurisdiction or area of the crime. The FIR may thereafter be transferred to the police station concerned for investigation. This will pertain to serious crimes including issues against women.

It is important that citizens should not face any harassment when they come forward to assist women in distress, the release said.

For this, such citizens should be protected to enable them to freely report a crime and assist the victim/police without being subjected to any interrogation or being forced to become witnesses, the release added.

The emergency telephone number would be accessible to subscribers of all telecom service providers as at present there are different telephone numbers being used for responding to different situations or target groups.

It is, therefore, proposed to have a system where there is a one point of contact available to a person in distress of any kind. Also, once a call is made to this number, the caller should not be asked to contact some other emergency number, the release said.

Instead, the call should seamlessly be transferred from the single point of contact to the appropriate distress line.

In addition to the general emergency response helpline, there would be a helpline dedicated to responding to women in distress. For this purpose, the number 181 may be operationalised across the country.

The National Crime Records Bureau will compile a database of persons convicted of criminal offences. Details of persons convicted of crimes against women will be displayed on their website.

PTI