July 26th, 2016
The Union Home Ministry has arrived at a decision to disband the Special Task Force for women’s safety in Delhi. The decision is being criticised and touted as retrograde and “anti-women” by the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW). The SFT was set up in 2013 in Delhi following the horrific Nirbhaya gang-rape, an incident which shook the nation. In an appeal to the Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, the DCW states the STW currently serves as the sole forum of coordination between the Centre and State regarding women’s safety in the capital.
DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal has written to Rajnath Singh elaborating the dire situation of women’s safety. She states the month of May 2016 itself accounts for 201 cases of rape. Of this shameful number, 82 were minors, and 31 cases were reported for victims under 13 years of age. “In light of these horrifying numbers, it is appalling that instead of strengthening the institutional mechanisms for fighting crimes against women in the state, the Home Ministry is disbanding the Special Task Force which is the only forum existing in Delhi for cooperative coordination between the Centre and the state on the issue of women safety,” she writes.
According to Maliwal, the decision has been taken following two notices the DCW had issued to the Union Home Secretary to enhance the efficiency and regularity of the STW. “With folded hands, I appeal to your conscience and request you to kindly review the ill—fated anti—women decision of the Home Ministry of disbanding the Special Task Force on Women’s Safety in Delhi,” she said. The Commission has been informed by the Ministry that Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung has been requested to organise a task force with representatives of the Delhi Police, GNCTD and related officials. In response to this, Maliwal alleges the Lieutenant Governor has previously failed to act upon similar requests put forth by the Commission in November 2015. We hope for some clarity regarding the issue soon; protection against gender-based crime is mandatory, and on no grounds should it be compromised. That said, it falls on each and every one of us to play our roles in the war against crime.
Disbanding the special task force at the time when horrific rape cases are taking place in New Delhi doesn’t seem a good idea. At the same time, the fact that a special task force is required to protect women from such heinous crimes reflects poorly on us all and is a proof of our failure to become a truly developed society. For at the end of the day, it is single individuals who make a community. It is high time we put gender stereotypes to rest for good, and stop seeing women as objects that can be compelled to one’s wish. More so, we need to stop turning a blind eye to crime, giving feeble excuses of ‘minding our own business’.
To not stop crime is to passively partake in the same. In short, stop raping, stop rape when you witness it, and stand up for each other. Now is when we must all pledge to put an end to this insanity; to stand up and fight for what is right.