Nirbhaya Fund for empowerment, safety and security of women and girl children
Nirbhaya Fund for Women Protection Violence against women has received unprecedented focus in governance and politics in the aftermath of Nirbhaya incident. Along with comprehensive reform of the Criminal Law Act in 2013, enhanced governance became a priority to urgently tackle widespread violence against women.
Set up with an initial corpus of 1000 crore, it received an additional grant of 1000 crore each in 2014 and 2015.
The fund would finance several schemes for making public spaces safer for women and for rehabilitation of victims of sexual assault and violence.
Nirbhaya Fund – major schemes
- Introduction of SOS button in phones which would be used by the PCR (Police Control Room) to trace distress calls. Initiated by the Ministry of Home Affairs in consultation with the Ministry of Information Technology, it would be launched in 157 cities in two phases and has an expected outlay of Rs. 1000 crore.
- A pilot scheme of setting up an SOS alert system in trains in central and western zones through a railway helpline.
- Installation of CCTV cameras and GPS in public transport in 32 towns each with a population of over one million. The scheme proposed by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has a budget of Rs. 1700 crores.
- Setting up of nirbhaya centres near government hospital in every district as first point access for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. The scheme is proposed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development with an expected budget of Rs 244 crores.
- Victim compensation fund for rehabilitation of victims of acid attacks.
- Programme named ‘Shubh’ for mapping vulnerabilities and identifying areas and categories of women who need special protection measures such as women in prostitution or widowed women
Background to the Fund
The need for urgent safety measures has been repeatedly stressed at several points in time by various committees and the Supreme Court while observing the shortcomings in laws and governance in preventing violence against women.
The Justice Verma committee, which was set up after the widespread protests in the wake of the Nirbhaya incident, had recommended use of CCTV cameras and GPS in public transport, public emergency response system to make public spaces safer for women
The Justice Usha Mehra committee, which was set up to look into Nirbhaya incident, too made an important recommendations of setting up crisis centre for victims of gender based violence and assault for easy access to legal and medical facilities
Interestingly, the Ministry of Home Affairs had also suggested setting up of such crisis centre in its advisories to state governments and Union Territories to curb violence against women
The Supreme Court (SC) has also actively acknowledged the need for urgent measures to safeguard and rehabilitate victims of sexual violence. Realizing the limitation of sections 294 and 509 in dealing with rampant sexual harassment in public, the SC issued guidelines to states governments to install CCTV camera in public spaces to prevent harassment and assault
Thus, setting up of the Nirbhaya Fund has given boost to the reforms and initiatives which had been in the pipeline for sometime. However, it has failed to reach the level of approval and implementation for want of political will and funds.
Critique of the Proposed Schemes
Although the schemes proposed under Nirbhaya fund have been recommended by various institutions and agencies previously, the changes they have gone through in the process of approval have left many of the schemes without much strength to make a difference at the grassroots level.
Technology enabled emergency response system
One of the major schemes under this fund is Technology enabled emergency response system. The scheme, launched in its first phase in Jaipur and Delhi recently, download of a panic button software in smart phones to be used in distress situation to send signal and location to police control room (PCR) for help.
But Justice Verma Committee had recommended a simple hotline as the basis of emergency response system to benefit larger number of persons and suggested use of Smartphone based panic button as technological addition to the system
Thus, this scheme has come under criticism for being exclusive as its technology and smart phone based security system safeguards only a certain class of women while leaving a large section out of its reach.
One stop crisis centre
The ambitious scheme of Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) to create one stop crisis centre in every district to provide legal, medical and psychological support under one roof to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence was also downsized by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
It has approved construction of only one centre in every state in order to reduce the cost of the scheme from Rs. 244 crores to Rs. 18 crores. As one centre in every state is highly inadequate to cater to victims from all over the state, it negates the basic idea of the scheme to provide easily accessible crisis centre’s to treat victims sensitively and prevent their revictimization in the medical-legal process in order to allow more women to come forward to report crime.
|S.No.||Name of the proposal and Ministry/ Department||Cost of Proposal|
|1.||Emergency Response Support System, MHA||321.69
|2.||Creation of Central Victim Compensation Fund (CVCF), MHA||200.00
|3.||Creation of Investigative Units for Crime against Women (IUCAW), MHA||324.00
|4.||Organized Crime Investigative Agency (OCIA), MHA||83.20
|5.||Cyber Crime Prevention against Women & Children (CCPWC), MHA||195.83
|6.||Proposal for providing facility of Social Workers/Counsellors at the District and Sub- Divisional Police Station Level in Delhi, Delhi Police/MHA||5.07
|7.||New building with women centric facilities for Special Unit for Women & Children (SPUWAC) and Special Unit for North East Region (SPUNER) at Nanakpura, Delhi Police/MHA||23.53
|8.||Integrated Emergency Response Management System (IEMRS), Ministry of Railways||500.00
|9.||Development & Field Testing of panic Switch based safety Device for Cars and Buses for aiding Women’s Safety, MeiTY||3.50|
|10.||Abhaya Project Proposal for safety of women and girl child, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh||138.49
|11.||Chirali Proposal, Women Empowerment Directorate, Govt. of Rajasthan||10.20
|12.||One Stop Centre, MWCD||119.69
|13.||Universalisation of Women Helpline, MWCD||69.49
|14.||Proposal on implementation of Mahila Police Volunteers Scheme in two districts, namely, Karnal and Mahendragarh, Govt. of Haryana||1.29|
|15.||Proposal on implementation of Mahila Police Volunteers Scheme in two districts, namely, Anantapur and Kadapa, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh||2.25|
|16.||Proposal on implementation of Mahila Police Volunteers Scheme in two districts, namely, Surat and Ahmedabad, Govt. of Gujarat||1.27|
|17.||Capacity Building at Village/ District/ State level for reducing violence against women, Govt. of Uttarakhand||0.72|
|18.||Training women for heavy passengers vehicles, Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation, Govt. of Karnataka||10.54|
|19.||Smart and safe cities free from violence against women and girls’ programme, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh||1.74|
|20.||Safe city project, Govt. of Odisha||110.35|
|21.||Installation of CCTVs in buses, UPSRTC, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh||83.5|
|22.||Nirbhaya Shelter Home, Govt. of Nirbhaya Fund||2.84|
Ministry of Women and Child Development is implementing three schemes under Nirbhaya Fund,
One Stop Centre (OSC),
Women Helpline(WHL) and
Mahila Police Volunteer.
One Stop Centres have been set up to facilitate access to an integrated range of services including medical, legal, and psychological support to women affected by violence to be funded through Nirbhaya Fund. The One Stop Centres will be integrated with 181 and other existing helplines. So far, 151 One Stop Centres have become operational.
The Scheme of Universalisation of Women Helpline is intended to provide 24 hours immediate and emergency response to women affected by violence through referral and information about women related government schemes programs across the country through a single uniform number.
The MWCD in collaboration with MHA has envisaged engagement of Mahila Police Volunteers in State/UTs who will act as a link between Police and Community and facilitate women in distress.