Nirb­haya Fund: Re­turns un­spent from all States

A mea­ger Rs 264 crore used out of Rs 3,000 crore till Au­gust 2017, as per an af­fi­davit filed in the Supreme Court.

Alive - - Contents - by Dr Elsa Ly­cias Joel ■

New Delhi is not just our coun­try’s cap­i­tal but also the cap­i­tal of crimes, es­pe­cially against women of which eve-teas­ing reg­is­tered a five­fold in­crease in 2013. From the near dou­bling of the num­ber of women al­leged to have been kid­napped-from 1,750 in 2012 to 2,906 in 2013 to the spurt­ing of rape cases to 250%, Delhi topped the no­to­ri­ously fa­mous ci­ties for cru­elty against women. Al­lo­ca­tion of 10 bil­lion cor­pus by Govern­ment of In­dia in its 2013 Union Bud­get as Nirb­haya fund was an emer­gency re­sponse. Is it for us to boast that our coun­try has the max­i­mum num­ber of leg­is­la­tions for women with enough money that didn’t find the need to be used? Did the Min­istry of Women and Child Devel­op­ment, along with its con­cerned min­istries, work out de­tails of the struc­ture, scope and the ap­pli­ca­tion of this fund is the unan­swered ques­tion­ing lin­ger­ing! Though it’s noth­ing close to the amount al­lo­cated for a me­mo­rial statue, to clean river Ganga or to­wards the 2010 com­mon­wealth games, only 30 pc is uti­lized in the last 5 years. We have

prob­lems mov­ing for­ward. Ei­ther the fund­ing is de­layed or funds lie unuti­lized. If noth­ing, they are pock­eted. Any vi­o­lence is the re­sult of Govern­ment’s ap­a­thy or in­ad­e­quacy. Un­der uti­liza­tion of this fund is one ex­am­ple.

To­tally In­ad­e­quate

An RTI query has re­vealed that only Rs 50 crore out of 500 crores has been uti­lized by the Rail­way Min­istry which means en­sur­ing round-the-clock se­cu­rity to pas­sen­gers in­clud­ing women is not their pri­or­ity. CCTV sur­veil­lance sys­tem in 350 odd sta­tions is ap­pre­ci­ated. We can only hope phase­wise in­stal­la­tion doesn’t mean quite a num­ber of years with re­gard to time or just ‘NO’ cam­eras, per­sonal and bag­gage screen­ing sys­tem and bomb de­tec­tion sys­tem. One stop cen­ters be­ing the flag­ship of Nirb­haya fund, this fa­cil­ity should be fully fledged. Apart from what’s ex­pected, the Apara­jita cen­tre, Jaipur set up in 2013 is looked upon as a failed project be­cause of the lack of trained coun­sel­lors, lit­tle ac­cess to le­gal aid and a fail­ure to link these cen­tres with help lines. Un­less oth­er­wise in­te­grated ser­vices are made avail­able to vic­tims by em­ploy­ing qual­i­fied reg­u­lar staff, the fund will re­main un­der­used or be mis­used. And re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of sur­vivors is for­got­ten as ‘Fol­low up’ does not hap­pen for want of re­sources. This is just one ex­am­ple of an OSC. Con­straints ex­ist as a re­sult of the fund be­ing mis­used or un­der­used. For­get re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion but if jus­tice for the af­fected women was govern­ment’s pri­or­ity, why was the Scheme for Restora­tive Jus­tice not im­ple­mented de­spite funds be­ing al­lo­cated for it. More so, why was it even­tu­ally dis­con­tin­ued in 2015-’16? Restora­tive jus­tice comes af­ter jus­tice. There was a hint about jus­tice de­liv­er­ance right from the start when one of the ac­cused was pro­tected from the noose, sent to a re­for­ma­tory to re­lax and learn moral science with an idea of a farewell gift too. In ad­di­tion to ful­fil­ing the re­quire­ments to qual­ify as that some­body to de­liver jus­tice, de­liv­er­ance of jus­tice needs noth­ing but plain com­mon sense and clear con­science. A man more than ca­pa­ble of com­mit­ting a heinous crime with such sex­ual per­ver­sion and no­to­ri­ety be­ing cat­e­go­rized as ‘Ju­ve­nile’ is the most ab­surd. There is no point wring­ing our hands or rack­ing our brains in frus­tra­tion about the in­ef­fi­ciency of ‘Sakhi Cen­tres’. Af­ter all, this scheme was im­ple­mented across the coun­try since 1st April 2015. And we all know the sig­nif­i­cance be­hind ‘April 1’. Nirb­haya fund did look like the ‘Queen of good times’. Lit­tle later did peo­ple re­al­ize “achhe din kabhi nahi aayenge’. In Novem­ber 2017 two years af­ter the govern­ment set up a central vic­tim com­pen­sa­tion scheme, out of 17 cases of rape doc­u­mented by Hu­man Rights Watch, only three sur­vivors re­ceived com­pen­sa­tion. Was the fund di­verted to some

An RTI query has re­vealed that only Rs 50 crore out of 500 crores has been uti­lized by the Rail­way Min­istry which means en­sur­ing round-the-clock se­cu­rity to pas­sen­gers in­clud­ing women is not their pri­or­ity. CCTV sur­veil­lance sys­tem in 350 odd sta­tions is ap­pre­ci­ated. We can only hope phase-wise in­stal­la­tion doesn’t mean quite a num­ber of years with re­gard to time or just ‘NO’ cam­eras.

in­dus­tri­al­ist is any­body’s wild guess. Never mind, the scheme still re­mains on pa­per.

Sta­tis­tics on the num­ber of calls re­ceived and re­sponded to on the women helpline looks im­pres­sive but not the num­ber of ben­e­fi­cia­ries. In­te­gra­tion of 181 with CATS as per the plans and rec­om­men­da­tion of DCW may take its time. As per DCW, most calls to 181 per­tained to cases of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence but hand­hold­ing of women in dis­tress should never mean coun­sel­ing and solv­ing mar­i­tal dis­putes that had al­ready led to vi­o­lence.

A mea­ger Rs 264 crore used out of Rs 3,000 crore till Au­gust, 2017, as per an af­fi­davit filed in the Supreme Court a few months ago is a dis­mal story. Shift­ing blames does not au­gur well. States be­ing lethar­gic about for­mu­lat­ing pro­pos­als fac­tor­ing in women safety is­sues in their sec­tor within the pub­lic sphere and send­ing it to the Min­istry for ap­praisal and rec­om­men­da­tion of projects sounds like a ridicu­lous ex­cuse from an un­der­per­form­ing stu­dent. Hasn’t the cen­tre at any point of time co­erced any state to act promptly! De­spite the stated en­thu­si­asm of the central govern­ment in an­nounc­ing this fund year back, govern­ment also must un­der­take im­por­tant mea­sures with a moral re­spon­si­bil­ity and con­scious­ness to main­stream the role of states in do­ing their part. Too much of prod­ding to use the fund should not give ideas ei­ther. Sadly, three min­istries in­volved re­mind me of ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth’.

Prime fo­cus

Peo­ple known for an­i­mal rights ac­tivism ap­prais­ing schemes un­der Nirb­haya fund will in­deed be slow­footed be­cause so much of ef­fort and time goes into writ­ing man­u­als for ‘Gausha­las’ and pro­tect­ing harm­ful stray an­i­mals. There is al­ways a re­la­tion be­tween ef­fi­ciency of a cer­tain min­istry and the per­son or Em­pow­ered Com­mit­tee of Of­fi­cers head­ing it. Peo­ple with dif­fer­ent ca­pa­bil­i­ties should be placed ap­pro­pri­ately. For ex­am­ple, the per­fect per­son for AWBI shouldn’t be else­where. Tap in the academia if there oc­curs a need. Of the 301 ci­ties, only 8 con­sid­ered un­safe for women it­self is a joke. Don’t be sur­prised if the GOI sug­gests all women to re­lo­cate to safe places till the funds are put to proper use. With dozen lead­ers with RSS back­ground and ideals, it will never come as a sur­prise if they man­age to make these 8 ci­ties free of women and save them­selves from be­ing taunted about not putting the fund to use.

Ac­cord­ing to a jour­nal­ist friend of mine, lo­cat­ing the One Stop Rape Cri­sis Cen­tre in AIIMS, New Delhi, sup­pos­edly coun­try’s renowned govern­ment hos­pi­tal, is more dif­fi­cult than help­ing Yogi. A un­der­stand that free­dom of re­li­gion in In­dia is a

fun­da­men­tal right. The ca­su­alty ward turned into a One Stop Cen­tre pro­vide only one fa­cil­ity out of sev­eral listed in the doc­u­ment and it seems the process to ac­cess that one fa­cil­ity is a har­row­ing one. An­other One Stop Cen­tre at Saf­dar­jung Hos­pi­tal with a nice sign board had noth­ing much to boast.

The women staff never seemed to have heard of words as ‘le­gal and psy­cho­log­i­cal coun­sel­ing’. As for these dys­func­tional OSCs, there is no agency what­so­ever to over­see why these are not func­tion­ing the way they were meant to be. The pres­ence of an OSC doesn’t mean it’s op­er­a­tional. More re­search on these pro­posed, awk­wardly im­ple­mented schemes would only amount to frus­tra­tion and anger at the lack­adaisi­cal at­ti­tude of the govern­ment.

Vi­o­lence against women

Ev­ery politi­cian ac­tively ac­knowl­edges the prob­lem of vi­o­lence against women thereby en­gag­ing our so­ci­ety in the dis­course around this in dif­fer­ent ways. Suf­fice to say, the re­cent sug­ges­tion by our tourism min­is­ter on how for­eign­ers should dress and con­duct them­selves here in In­dia seems to in­sin­u­ate much more than ‘what women wear is the real prob­lem’. The hon­ourable min­is­ter made no bones about his in­tent of con­vey­ing a mes­sage in tune with the likes of ABVP and their men­tors. Peo­ple are un­aware as to if the ap­a­thy is the cen­tre’s or the states’.

Ju­di­cious use of this fund from time to time re­quires com­mit­ment, im­ple­men­ta­tion of ap­praised projects and re­view­ing the progress of on­go­ing works. If only we had harsh­est pun­ish­ment and tough­est penalty for crime against women, work­ing sur­veil­lance sys­tems in pub­lic places, sen­si­tive po­lice force and a vig­i­lant ju­di­ciary, then this Nirb­haya Fund wouldn’t have been a ne­ces­sity at all. Al­lo­ca­tion of funds alone will never solve prob­lems. It re­quires peo­ple with in­tegrity, hon­esty, in­tel­li­gence and wis­dom to pri­or­i­tize is­sues.

Ev­ery politi­cian ac­tively ac­knowl­edges the prob­lem of vi­o­lence against women thereby en­gag­ing our so­ci­ety in the dis­course around this in dif­fer­ent ways. Suf­fice to say, the re­cent sug­ges­tion by our tourism min­is­ter on how for­eign­ers should dress and con­duct them­selves here in In­dia seems to in­sin­u­ate much more than ‘what women wear is the real prob­lem’.

In­au­gu­ra­tion of a Sakhi Cen­tre in Jhark­hand: Just for a name!

SC rep­ri­manded the State gov­ern­ments for un­der­use of Nirb­haya Fund while women vic­itims un­dergo tremen­dous suf­fer­ings.

Even chil­dren cried for Nirb­haya, but the fund named af­ter her is un­der-utilised while rape vic­tims con­tinue to suf­fer.

Crimes against women in­creas­ing while re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion mea­sures of the vic­tims di­min­ish­ing.

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