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Challenges of women’s safety!

Women’s security and increase in cyber crimes are the new challenges facing India today. In this connection, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been assisting the States and Union Territories to set up investigating units for crimes against women and children, utilizing Nirbhaya Fund. The MHA has also extended recently the revamped Crime and Criminal Targeting Network System (CCTNS) project with an objective of fully computerizing the functioning of police stations across the country, interlinking and sharing of data amongst police, courts, prisons, prosecution and forensic laboratories.

MHA has also begun implementing Cyber Crime Prevention against Women and Children (CCPWC) Scheme under Nirbhaya Fund with an outlay of Rs.195.83 crore for the next three years beginning the current fiscal year 2017-18. Under the Scheme, 36 cyber forensic training centres will be established in all States and Union Territories, 40,500 police officers trained all over India and R & D Centre established for cyber crime prevention technologies.

As for the protection of women against sexual harassment in public and private organizations in the National Capital Territory of Delhi, Special Commissioner of Police (Crimes) maintains that crimes against women and children have indeed declined in 2016 compared to 2015. While there was a minor decrease in rape cases, there was a substantial decrease of 22 per cent in crimes of molestation of women. As for rape cases of women not declining in Delhi, Delhi Police Commissioner, according to MHA, says of the rape cases reported, only less than four per cent were committed by accused persons unknown to the victims. He, however, maintained that majority of cases, more than 96 per cent, were taking place either within the household or in the neighbourhood or by accused persons already known to the victim or had some kind of relationship having gone sour.

Nirbhaya Fund, created in the wake of brutal rape incident of December 16, 2012 in Delhi, for the safety and security of women and children, with a corpus of Rs. 1000 crore, remains severely underutilized. MHA is yet to chalk out proper schemes for implementation under this Fund. A source in the MHA told this correspondent that as of now, the Fund is used for miscellaneous expenditure only, which does not address the safety and security concerns of women. MHA has since set in motion the process of consultation with States and Union Territories for preparing proper schemes with measurable outcome indicators.

Meanwhile, Himmat App, introduced by Delhi Police with big fanfare two years ago to rescue and help women in distress, has come a cropper. It is yet to take off. There is a question mark over its utilization by women in distress and measures to increase its popularity. According to information available in the MHA, Special Police Commissioner (Crimes) says 75 calls came from Himmat APP requiring police action. However, he maintains total downloads of this App were 89662 and there were 30821 registered users. Total calls received in the control room were 8653. Out of that, most of these were SOS test calls.

However, number of downloads and registered users of Himmat App are very few due to requirement of registration that makes registration complex and availability of the App was only in English language, which has since been rectified with introduction of the App in Hindi in the second week of April 2017 to increase its usage and popularity.

According to the MHA, Himmat App was grossly misused when it was started. People used to send pornographic material intentionally forcing the Delhi Police to introduce registration procedure to get the genuine users. However, with only 1000 android downloads of this App during the last two years, the MHA has termed this App as a failure in ensuring an emergency helpline for women of Delhi. It is now learnt officially, Himmat App has failed to serve the purpose for which it was introduced.
Complex registration process and non-availability of App in Hindi till April 2017, and registered users only being 30821 in a city with a 19 million population reflected on the comprehensive failure of this App to function as an SOS helpline for the women. Lack of adequate publicity and lack of public awareness also contributed largely to the failure of this App.

Now that Himmat App has been redesigned to make it simpler and user friendly, Hindi version introduced, one hopes a large number of women will use it. It is learnt from official sources that Delhi Police has embarked on using the services of a digital marketing agency to publicise the App among the target users through the print and electronic media as well as social media, by giving a specific target to the agency to achieve at least a million downloads by the end of 2017!

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