The recent unfortunate incident of the gruesome crime against a young girl and the collective angst that followed was a wake-up call for the nation. As much as I read the horrid accounts of her 13-day ordeal and interviews with her family, I feel the same anguish that one feels after losing a loved one. I must say that, we at FICCI, feel the agony of the aggrieved family and lament the uncountable hopes dashed with the untimely loss of a bright girl. We also stand with the nation in our quest for a resolution to this vexing issue.
This regrettable incident is a clarion call to address the issue on a priority basis. More so, since crime against women has registered an almost 10-fold increase since 1953, it is time we anchor some solutions. Astonishingly crime against women has also outpaced the rate of rise in other heinous crimes like murder, kidnapping and robbery.
We believe that addressing the issue will need an active participation of all concerned, the government, the civil society and the industry. While several recommendations have already been made to the government, FICCI is working on guidelines for Industry. FICCI and FICCI Ladies Organization (FLO) have established an Industry Task Force on Safety for Women, which is looking at developing and adopting a National Safety Policy for Women through industry consultations. Some of the key industry specific facets we are looking at are:
- Gender Audits: A compulsory exercise for the industry to ensure a safe and fair working environment for women. FICCI is currently working on developing the parameters and actionable measures for implementation based on the consultations.
- Safety Audits: While gender audits target the perceptual environment, safety audit aims at assessing workplace infrastructural safety issues, and even extends beyond to include travel to and from the workplace. Broad parameters, on this count, are also in the consultation phase.
- Nodal Officers: We are exploring an option to have a nodal contact person responsible for expeditiously solving issues faced by women in industry.
Besides, FICCI, just like all other Indians, supports and asks for better governance. That, stricter laws, stronger enforcement and timely legal intervention will go a long way in curtailing crime against women is logic not lost on us. FICCI welcomes the establishment of fast track courts. However, more than that, FICCI roots for an action-oriented approach, one that tackles gender-based violence through Prevention (changing perception through sensitization drives); Protection (abetting crimes through a speedy legal framework and institutional support); and Law Enforcement (un-biased and accountable). We are also pushing for the passage of Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill and The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Amendment Bill currently pending in Rajya Sabha.
While it may be true, that tackling and solving crimes against women will take considerable efforts and time, nonetheless, a beginning has to be made. At the same time, my sincere belief is that while the above may help in tackling the issue, it may not eradicate it. There, is a host of issues needing proper consideration when we aim at reducing crime against women. I believe, sooner than later, these all will be addressed. I assure you that your chamber FICCI will be working with the government, and the industry in addressing several issues.
That said and above all, I believe that the change begins with us. It is time we build a society where equality and respect is not a topic for debate but a norm. It is time we change our mindset. It is time that we build a balanced and a nurturing environment for our youth.
The first change begins in our homes and let 2013 be that year of change.
 National Crime Records Bureau (2011); NCRB data is available from 1953.
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