What DCW Chief Swati Maliwal wrote to Maneka Gandhi

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To,

Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Hon’ble Minister
Ministry of Women and Child Development
Govt. of India.

I write to you today, on the third anniversary of Nirbhaya’s gruesome gang-rape in a moving bus on 16th December 2012. As you are aware, three years ago, the entire city erupted in anger and people were out on the streets protesting for a safer Delhi. A common demand all across was that Nirbhaya’s sacrifice should not go in vain and constructive and definitive steps should be taken to ensure that no further rapes happen in Delhi and in the country.

However, as you are aware, rapes are continuing unabated in Delhi. Everyday, the Commission is receiving cases of brutal rapes even of minors some aged as low as 2 years old. A 4-year old child in Delhi was recently in a critical condition after being raped brutally and underwent 2 hour long surgery. As I write this letter to you, another 7 year old girl was raped very brutally and is presently recuperating after undergoing a 2 hour surgery in AIIMS.

I am extremely concerned that even after the passage of 3 years, the Nirbhaya Fund, which was established in the memory of the brave heart Nirbhaya remains unutilised. In this regard, I was extremely shocked to learn that the Women and Child Development Ministry, Government of India has denied Nirbhaya Fund to a proposal by the Delhi Government to install CCTVs in DTC buses. Since Nirbhaya incident occurred in a bus, it seems but obvious that busses need to be made safer for women in the Capital. However, it is shocking that the Ministry has been rejecting this proposal to install CCTV cameras in DTC busses since 5th June 2015 stating that the proposal is not ‘gender sensitive’. Even the Special Task Force on Women’s Safety (MHA), recognized the importance of the proposal for installation of CCTV cameras in DTC busses and forwarded the request again to the WCD Ministry, GOI, which again recently rejected the proposal on minor procedural grounds. Further, I have been informed through media reports that a major chunk of the fund, around Rs. 750 crores is being given to Railways which as we all know is already a cash surplus organisation. Also, as per media reports, the WCD Ministry, GOI has stated that there weren’t many ‘innovative’ schemes or proposals requesting funding from the Nirbhaya Fund.

In light of this, the Delhi Commission for Women strongly recommends that the Nirbhaya Fund be immediately sanctioned for installing CCTV cameras in DTC busses in Delhi. Also, on the occasion of the third anniversary of the Nirbhaya incident, I request you to kindly announce setting up of well-equipped Forensic Labs named after Nirbhaya all over the country from the Nirbhaya Fund. The Delhi Commission for Women had recently issued a Notice to forensic science laboratories to investigate the status of forensic reports in Delhi and was shocked to find that almost 1500 samples had expired and further 2200 were on the verge of expiry. These samples could have been of rape victims, who have probably been denied justice forever. I apprehend that a similar situation might be prevalent in other states as well. That is why I urge you to kindly allocate Nirbhaya Fund for strengthening Forensic Labs across the country.

Further, the Commission is receiving many complaints from victims of sexual crimes against inaction by Police officials. A recent RTI reply from the Delhi Police reveals that while over 1.5 lakh complaints were received against erring police officers, FIRs have been registered in only 95 such complaints ie. only on 0.06% of the total complaints. The recent 189th Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs has also highlighted the need to strengthen Delhi Police. Therefore, I strongly propose the use of the Nirbhaya Fund for installation of CCTV cameras in all police stations of the country starting from Delhi.

Women pay dearly for every extra day they are made to wait outside the courts and Police stations, and for every hour that a file is delayed in its passing. That is why, I strongly urge you to kindly ensure the release of the Nirbhaya Fund from the bureaucratic procedures it is presently embroiled in. I am confident that if you kindly make these announcements and requisite disbursement of the fund to the States, the Nirbhaya Fund will automatically start getting utilised in an effective manner.

I have always admired your work and leadership and I wish to work closely with you on resolving womens issues in Delhi. On the third anniversary of this gory incident, on behalf of all the Nirbhayas we have visited in police stations, hospitals, shelter homes and courts, the DCW seeks urgent action on this issue.

Warm Regards,

 Swati Maliwal

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