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Maneka Gandhi calls for special cells on women's issues

New Delhi [India], Jun 6 :
Union Minister of Women and Child Development (WCD) Maneka Gandhi on Wednesday wrote to all ministries to set up special cells on women's issues.

A one-of-a-kind roundtable was held today with various stakeholders under the chairpersonship of Maneka to discuss the issue of cybercrime against women and children, particularly the elimination of online child sexual abuse material, rape imagery and other offensive material.

The digital space is being increasingly used to perpetuate violence against women and children.
During the course of the discussions, various government stakeholders, industry bodies, Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) along with social media agencies participated.
The issue of data security was deliberated on by Data Security Council of India (DSCI). Civil society was also represented as well.

It was decided at the roundtable that the following actions will be taken within the next three months -
Build an international alliance to ensure full protection to women and children from the borderless nature of cybercrime, development of an online central reporting mechanism for lodging and escalating complaints of cybercrime from anywhere anytime and making a mechanism for real-time removal/blocking of offensive material online.

One Stop Centres

193 One Stop Centres (OSCs), popularly known as Sakhi Centres are functional across the country. While interacting with media on WCD Ministry's Achievements in New Delhi, Maneka said that 193 Sakhi Centres have been established in the country for the women affected by violence.
The Union Minister added that the number of One Stop Centres would be increased to more than 600 by the next year. Over 1.3 lakh women have been assisted.

Special division on women issues in ministries

Maneka also pointed out that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has recently created a special division to address the issues of women safety. She has written to all the ministries to create the similar division.

The WCD Minister further shared that MHA is creating National Repository of Sex Offenders. The profile of sex offenders on this repository would be shared with the states and Union Territories (UTs).

Nirbhaya Fund

Highlighting the projects appraised under Nirbhaya Fund, Maneka thanked the Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving the utmost priority to women safety and security and said that projects worth more than Rs. 6,000 crores have been appraised under the Nirbhaya Fund by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

NRI matrimonial disputes

Speaking on the disputes in NRI marriages, the Minister said that the WCD Ministry is in the process of issuing orders to the registrars that NRI marriages have to be registered within 48 hours else the passport and visas would not be issued.

The registrars would send the details of such NRI marriages to the WCD Ministry so that a central database can be maintained. The ministry has recently issued six lookout circulars in such cases and in five cases, passports have been revoked by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Advanced DNA Laboratory dedicated to women related cases

The WCD Minister laid the foundation of Sakhi Suraksha Advanced DNA Laboratory on June 1, 2018, to process cases of sexual assault faster and more effectively to reduce case-backlog and deliver justice to women and children.

Rs. 99.76 crore has been allocated under the Nirbhaya Fund. Five more advanced forensic labs are to be set up in Mumbai, Chennai, Guwahati, Pune and Bhopal in the next three months.
Special forensic kits for rape cases

Underscoring the importance of the forensics in nabbing the culprits in sexual assault cases, Maneka said that special forensic kits for rape would be distributed to all the police stations and hospitals by the month of July.

These kits would contain a complete list of evidence and samples to be collected along with the equipment required to collect the evidence. The kits would be locked and sealed before being sent to forensic labs.

National Policy for Women

The WCD Ministry has prepared the draft National Policy for Women, 2017 after considering over 15,000 suggestions and comments received from stakeholders.

While replying to a query by a media person, Maneka replied that the policy has been submitted to the Cabinet.

Death Penalty Ordinance

To provide for stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape with children, the central government approved an ordinance on death penalty amending the IPC and CrPC. A new provision for a death penalty to rapists of girls up to 12 years of age was added.

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP)
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme was launched in January 2015 with an aim of preventing sex selection, ensuring survival and protection of the girl child and ensuring the education of the girl child.

The encouraging trends are visible as per the latest (Health Management Information System) HMIS data of MoHFW (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) for 161 districts for the time period between April-March, 2015-16 and 2016-17 indicating that:

i. Improving trend in Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) is visible in 104 BBBP districts.

ii. 119 Districts have reported progress in first-trimester registration against the reported Ante-Natal Care registrations.

iii. 146 Districts have reported improvement in institutional deliveries.

It is the first-of-its-kind online reporting and complaint management system for cases of sexual harassment at workplace and was launched in 2017.

Around 191 complaints were registered on the portal and the WCD Ministry took action on them.
Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017
The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, became an Act on March 27, 2017. The Act extends maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks, making it the third longest in the world.
Commissioning and adoptive mothers are entitled to 12-week maternity leave, provided the age of the child is less than three months. It also provides for mandatory creche facility at organisations having 50 or more employees.

Training for Elected Women Representatives

The WCD Ministry has taken up the training of elected women representatives (EWRs) in panchayats from last year to empower them to govern their villages effectively and develop into grassroots change makers.

It is aimed at improving the leadership qualities and management skills of EWRs for better implementation of various schemes, impart knowledge on important legislation and monitor asset creation and public works.

So far, 18,578 EWRs trained across the country.20,000 additional EWRs to be trained in 2018-19.
New Taxi Policy Guidelines

New taxi policy guidelines for improved women safety were brought out in 2017 with better safety measures for women. This includes - mandatory GPS panic devices in all taxis, disabling of the child-locking system, prominent display of driver's identification with photo and registration number of the vehicle, sharing of seat to be subject to the willingness of female passengers etc.
181 Women helpline

It is a country-wide toll-free number that provides 24-hour emergency and non-emergency response to women affected by violence. Over 16.5 lakh women have been assisted.
33% Reservation for Women in Police Force

The WCD Ministry has been working along with the MHA to improve overall police responsiveness to gender-sensitive cases and to bring visibility to more women in the police force.
An advisory has been issued to all state governments to increase representation of women in police to 33 percent of the total strength. So far, this reservation has been extended in 10 states and seven UTs.
Widows' home
One widow's home with a capacity of 1000 widows, fully funded by the Centre has been constructed at Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh to provide a safe and secure place of stay, health services, nutrition, food legal and counselling services.
Women in prisons
A report has been prepared based on the study of the condition of women and children in prison. The recommendations will be made to the MHA and Supreme Court in this regard.

POSHAN Abhiyaan
The scheme was launched by Prime Minister Modi on March 8, 2018.
It aims to achieve improvement in nutritional status of children (0-6 years), adolescent girls and pregnant women and lactating mothers with the objectives of:
i. Preventing and reducing under-nutrition in children (0-3 years).
ii. Reducing the prevalence of anaemia among young children (6-59 months).
iii. Reducing the prevalence of anaemia among women and adolescent girls (15-49 years) and reducing low birth weight.

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) e-Box was launched in August 2016 and is a simple and easy to use the facility for children or any adult to register complaints of child sexual abuse or harassment. It is a direct online reporting mechanism.
1100 complaints were registered on the portal so far.


It is a nationwide emergency helpline for children in distress. It is currently operational at 435 locations across the country. 1.8 crore calls have been received every year since 2014.
Trackchild and KhoyaPaaya

The objective of the above two portals is:

i. To ensure timely tracking of missing children.

ii. To ensure speedy repatriation and rehabilitation of the missing children.

iii. To ensure monitoring of children in child care institutions.

iv. To set up a framework for participating organisations involved in the process.

So far, 1,73,441 children have been matched through the system.

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