We must wonder at the magic of doubling the expenditure for a shrinking staff and work of AP women’s commission. Only bureaucrats can ‘achieve’ this feat. If they are in private sector, they’d be fired by now. Shut this sham show is the advice of many well-meaning citizens.
‘A’ as we all know is the first alphabet of English language. Andhra Pradesh also starts with the first alphabet but carries with it the dubious distinction of being first in crime against women in the country.
According to National Crime Bureau Records, crime rate against women in AP has been the highest since 2007. A total of 3,807 cases of rape have been recorded from 2008 to 2010, which constitutes 4.94% of total incidents of crime against women. A total of 14,511 cases of molestation have been recorded for the same period, which constitutes 18.86% of total incidents of crime against women. A total of 11,633 cases of sexual harassment (eve-teasing) have been recorded for the same period, which constitutes 15.12% of total incidents of crime against women.
Rapes, molestations and sexual harassment constituted 38.93% of crimes against women in AP in 2008-2010. Nothing much has changed in the last two year.
Despite the tag, what’s interesting is that the AP women’s commission is headless since the last five years. Mary Ravindranath, the erstwhile chairperson quit her post because of the internal clashes. After which the government has not appointed a chairperson. The figures show that maximum petitions were filed in 1997-98 when the panel was fully functional. “We had some internal problems and hence she was asked to leave. Ever since then we are a body without any one to guide or lead,” said Rasool Bee, section officer.
Since its inception in 1999 the commission has done a lot for the uplift of women and bringing them justice. In the year 2006 as many as 1,476 petitions were registered but after the body was dissolved the number of petitions has also decreased, last year only 531 cases were registered.
“We have been fighting for the appointment of a chairperson since the last five years. We have filed several petitions and all the women heads from various parties have approached the CM, he promises to do something immediate but then nothing happens. It’s such an irony that our home minister herself is a woman and she is also not taking any interest. Now we have send a petition to the governor, he is our final hope,” said Sobha Hymavathi, TDP women’s wing president.
From 2010-2011, Rs.7,18,000 have been spent on renting a large office at Buddha Bhavan in Secunderabad with barely any employees working there. The unusually large expenditure, summing up to Rs.15,28,125 for 2010-11, does not include a whopping Rs.20 lakh as salary of a handful of people. Presently, only three posts are occupied there — a secretary and two council members, the members’ average salary ranges from Rs.35,000- 40,000 per month.
Now, the sole in-charge, the secretary, has also been transferred and there are just two council members to run the show. “We are just doing the basic work; we want to do more but are suffering a lack of leadership. If the crime rate has to reduce we need to spread awareness and conduct more programs but are not in a state to do any work,” said Rasool Bee.
Women activists believe the government should shut down the department and channelise the budget for a better cause. “That for five years they were unable to appoint a chairperson only shows the level of corruption. Our government only talks. A State which does not have a body for women’s causes speaks volumes for rulers’ contempt for women and their issues,” says Mondira Jaisimha, director Heroes Project.
“Ironically, in a state that claims to respect its women and has a woman home minister. the women’s commission is simply powerless,” said a Congress leader.
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