Delhi needs a high-level committee to address women’s issues: Maliwal
In a candid chat with Godhuli Barat, Maliwal discusses her first-hand experience of visiting rape victims in the city and working in tandem to provide them justice. She also mentions her experience of working with Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi. Excerpts:
Q: As DCW’s chairperson, what are the major initiatives that you have in mind?
A: DCW was a dead organisation from a very long time. But now, the functioning of DCW has changed. The first thing which we are doing is to go through minor to major cases, no matter how poor the situation is, and treat them equally. Secondly, we are also focusing on the larger policy issues. For instance, we have recommended the Central government for a high-level committee in Delhi which will comprise Rajnath Singh, Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi Police Commissioner and DCW as there is a pressing need to focus on women’s issues. Schemes like Delhi Victim Compensation Fund which is given to a victim of sexual assault and other such schemes are still pending which need to be addressed. The situation is very horrifying and pathetic as this year already 450 minor rapes have taken place.
Q: Can you please elaborate on the powers given to NCW and DCW?
A: The powers are mostly the same, except that the jurisdiction is different. The DCW jurisdiction is limited to Delhi whereas, the National Commission for Women (NCW) has a larger jurisdiction and they can actually do a lot. But now, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), in its present form, is more powerful. The first thing that we did was that we wrote to Indira Jaising for granting us powers to issue arrest warrants. Apart from that, we have decided to work in tandem with the Ministry of Women and Child Development to resolve the issue of online abuse.
Q: Recently you have decided to work together with Maneka Gandhi. What will be your main focus and steps to stop cyber crime?
A: We are in constant touch with Manekaji and I seek guidance from her and on various issues she suggests ways to take them forward. This specific issue of the 14-year-old victim was taken up by her and she asked the NCW to work on it and support the victim. For complaints being reported on online abuse, we need to set up a system for it and I would like to support Manekaji in this. The first thing we will be doing is to set up a cyber cell. The police have already given us data that in 2014, as many as 11,000 crimes were reported against women out of which in 2015, only 50 per cent of the cases were investigated. We need more resources for all this.
Q: When the Delhi government was formed, they were aware that Delhi Police will be under the Centre. Do you think bringing the police under the Delhi government will bring in change?
A: This is the largest statehood issue which is in the hand of the High Court but what is important for Delhi now is that the city needs a high level committee to address women’s issues. The main problem in Delhi is there is no coordination between both the governments. The Delhi Police comes under the Centre and rest of the things are under the state government.
Q: An FIR has been lodged against you. How do you see that? You have even written a letter to the Police Commissioner. What was its main purpose?
A: It is very sad that a 14-year-old girl gets raped. There are certain lapses which can be seen in the functioning of the police. The Central Information Commission (CIC) was not informed in this case and in several other major cases including the one of the 14-year-old. We raised this issue for the girl to get justice. And the police, instead of investigating, filed an FIR against me. The content of the FIR is baseless and it is absolutely untenable. I am actually not scared of any FIR. DCW will always stand beside women in all situations. DCW will continue to help women in distress.