The issue of safety and security of women was of the highest priority, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Thursday and asked all chief ministers in the country to pay special attention to this critical area.
Addressing a meeting of the National Development Council, the Prime Minister said "no meaningful development" could take place without the active participation of half the population. And this participation, he said, cannot take place if their safety was not ensured.
"Women and girls represent half the population and our society has not been fair to this half; there can be no meaningful development without the active participation of half the population and this participation simply cannot take place if their (women) security and safety are not assured," the prime minister said.
"We must reflect on the problem which occurs in all states and regions of the country and requires greater attention," he added.
The emergence of women in public spaces, which is an absolutely essential part of social emancipation, was accompanied by growing threats to their safety, the Prime Minister said.
Referring to the 23-year-old gang-rape victim in the national capital, he said the culprits had been apprehended. The Prime Minister told the gathering, comprising chief ministers and senior ministers, that the government had decided to review the laws in cases of aggravated sexual assault.
He said that a commission of enquiry has been set up to look into issues of safety and security of women.
The 57th National Development Council meeting is being held at Vigyan Bhavan.