Rise in rape, abduction spurs move in Meghalaya

Shillong, Sept 10 : The committee on empowerment for women of the Meghalaya Assembly has recommended increasing the strength of wom-en police in the state both at the officer and non-officer levels, keeping in mind the rise in crimes against the fairer sex.

The committee, headed by United Democratic Party legislator Nimarson Momin, submitted its second report to the Assembly during the autumn session, which concluded on Friday.

Going by the figures, which were reflected in the committee report, there is no denial that crimes against women in this matrilineal state have increased in the past five years (2007-2011).

In the above years, a staggering 1,151 cases were registered under various heads of crimes against women in the seven districts of the state.

Such crimes include rape, abduction of women and girls, dowry, death, molestation, sexual harassment, cruelty by husband or relatives, indecent representation of women and others.

But most of the crimes, which were committed against women, were related to rape.

Against, the 1,151 cases, the committee reported that only 562 chargesheets have been filed, while final reports were filed against 189 cases.

Besides, there were 676 cases, which were pending investigation as on December 31, 2011.

Moreover, the report highlighted that there were only 220 women police personnel in the state.

These include eight gazetted officers, 183 unarmed and armed personnel, and 29 personnel belonging to the Meghalaya Police Radio Organisation.

“Keeping in view the rise of crimes against women, the government should increase the strength of women police in the state both at the officer and non-officer level,” the committee said.

It also suggested that a nodal woman police officer should be posted in all the police stations to look into the complaints of the victimised women and also play the role of a counsellor for them.

To deal with cases related to sexual abuse, the committee said an adolescent health centre should be set up at the district level.

To facilitate early justice for the victims, the committee stressed proper coordination between the police, magistrate and the departments of social welfare and health.

In relation to the Meghalaya Victims Compensation Scheme, 2011, the committee recommended that awareness should be created to popularise the scheme and to approach the victims for payment of compensation.

It also recommended an enhancement of the compensation package.

According to the scheme, a rape victim will be entitled to Rs 50,000 compensation while Rs 25,000 should be paid for loss or injury causing severe mental agony to women and children in cases such as human trafficking and abduction.

A victim will be eligible for the grant of compensation if the offender is not traced or identified. However, if the victim is identified, and no trial takes place, they may also apply for grant of compensation.

The victim may also claim compensation if they report the crime to the officer-in-charge of a police station or magistrate or judicial magistrate of the area. However, they also need to cooperate with the police during the investigation and trial of the case.