The United Nations' body for gender equality and the state government on Saturday launched the global 'safe city' campaign in Bhopal, aimed at preventing violence against women in public spaces.
An initiative of UN Women — a United Nations organisation for gender equality and empowerment of women — the programme will be implemented by the state directorate of women empowerment, under the department of women and child development.
Madhya Pradesh has emerged as a state with high rate of crime against women in recent times.
According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics, Madhya Pradesh recorded the country’s highest number of 4,335 rapes in 2013.
Bhopal itself recorded 131 rape cases, the sixth highest in the country, besides 307 assaults with intent to outrage modesty.
Bhopal is the second city in India after New Delhi where the initiative was launched in 2009.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was present during the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) by JN Kansotia, the principal secretary of the department of women and child development and Patricia Barandun, deputy representative of UN Women office in India.
Commissioner of women empowerment Kalpana Shrivastava and local representative of UN Women Anju Pandeya were also present on the occasion.
"The objectives of the three-year programme include safety mapping to identify the issues and the areas/public spaces prone to be unsafe for women," Kalpana Shrivastava said.
'Shaurya Dals' — community-based municipal ward and village-level teams raised by the state — would be actively involved in execution of the programme. Already, 7,500 'shaurya dals' are functional in the state.
· Safe city initiative is a community-based effort to make the city free of violence against women
· Programme aims at allowing women and girls freedom of movement in public spaces without fear of harassment
· Safety mapping would be undertaken to identify the safety issues and unsafe public spaces
· On need-based assessment, specific solutions would be developed to turn the spaces safer
· The programme entails increased policing, more vigil or addressing problems related to alcoholism as source of violence
· 'Shaurya dals' raised by state government would be actively involved in execution of programme.