Facing the ignominy of topping the chart on crime against women, West Bengal is facing a big challenge to tackle the issue as it lacks basic infrastructure including protection officers.
The state has only 21 women protection officers, all on contractual basis, for the entire state and that too without any support staff or basic infrastructure.
“It is true that we have only 21 women protection officers. We need more women protection officers. We do feel that infrastructure and support staff need to be increased. But that’s a time bound process, which also needs clearance from finance department,” Women Development & Social Welfare Minister Sashi Panja told PTI.
According to NCRB data of 2014, published in 2015, out of the 3,37,922 incidents of crime against women in the country, Bengal has the highest with 38,299 cases. Uttar Pradesh stood second with 38,467 cases.
And in terms of rate of crime against women, Bengal stood second with 85.5 per cent with Rajasthan topping the chart with 91.4 per cent.
While a decade has passed since the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA), 2005, was passed, but with lack of basic infrastructure and manpower, justice seems to be elusive for the women who are victims of domestic violence.
PWDVA was enacted primarily to deal with those assaulting or making life of women miserable, by such conduct even if it does not amount to physical ill-treatment. The act also has provisions which provides the woman to seek relief such as protection, shelter and medical facilities, activists say.
But due to lack of proper infrastructure, women who are victims of domestic violence find it tough to get justice due to procedural delays, they say.
Some of the women protection officers who spoke to PTI on condition of anonymity pointed out their helplessness due to huge pressure of cases.