The recent spate of attacks on women in the city, and the nationwide outrage against poor safety of women, has prompted the state government and authorities to sit up and take notice. With no scope for delay in action, home minister RR Patil talks about reviewing pending decisions, introducing amendments, and the various roadblocks in the process to enhancing women's security.
The state recorded 46,000 cases related to crime against women between 2009 and 2011. Women in Maharashtra are increasingly feeling unsafe.
The National Crime Record Bureau shows that the crime related to women in Maharashtra has gone down by 1.5% in the past year. But I do agree that the crimes recorded at present are heinous. We have proposed an amendment to the Centre to make rape a cognisable offence. The Central government has replied positively to this and said they are making necessary changes to the law.
The conviction rate in the state is low, which is not very promising. What are you doing to change this?
The conviction rate is related to many things, the first being the way the case is handled at the police station. We have insisted that there should be at least one woman cop in each police station, yet we are 20,000 officials short. We have 24,000 women police, the highest in the country, of which 17,500 were recruited in the past 5 years. We are constantly sensitising the police about how to handle women-related complaints with care.
Also, nowadays forensic lab reports are crucial to most molestation and rape cases, since witnesses turn hostile. Unfortunately, these labs are understaffed and overworked. We are trying to fix this.
But it has been observed that such cases are stuck in the trial stage for years.
The state government has now decided to propose that of the 100 fast track courts, 25 should be dedicated to handling cases of crime against women. Unfortunately, of the 100 courts, only 69 have judges while 31 posts are lying vacant. We will be requesting the high court to tackle both the issues.