Notify safe spaces for women in distress: HC to govt

Srinagar: The J&K High Court has directed the Social Welfare department to notify appropriate safe spaces for women in distress so that they have easy access to them.

The court passed the direction after Additional Advocate General (AAG) Amit Gupta drew attention of the court towards the order passed by Deputy Commissioners in J&K to identify locations where safe spaces for victims of domestic violence can be established.

The court was informed that a total of 1,314 calls were received on the emergency number 181 between March24 and April 24, 2020, out of which 65 were related to violence against women.

“The remaining 956 calls were reported by migrant labourers who were in distress on account of the lockdown. Extensive publicity is being given to measures available for victims of domestic violence,” the AAG told the court.

The Social Welfare department informed the court that it has notified Anganwadi workers to attend to women complainants who would not be comfortable expressing their personal issues before males.

The court remarked that women in distress may not have easy access to Anganwadi workers. “Ease of access has to be the primary concern for notifying an authority, especially in the urban areas,” the court said.

It was also observed by the court that it may not be correct that women as a rule would be uncomfortable in making a complaint against violence to males.

The court also remarked that certain other specific groups in society, who need special protection, have been overlooked. “These include senior citizens, children, the disabled, and transgenders who need attention as well,” the court said.

It was observed by the court that abuse of the elderly and violence against children as well as violence against transgenders was rampant in society.

“Just like violence against women, such violence may have aggravated in the lockdown situation and resultant confinement,” the court said.

It was recorded that the directions made by the court on 16th April, 2020, would squarely apply to these groups of the community as well.

“Let the Department of Social Welfare and Member Secretary, J&K State Legal Services Authority, examine the requirements and steps necessary to mitigate the complaints and difficulties of victims of elderly abuse, child violence, violence against disabled and transgenders in the UTs of Jammu and Kashmir as well as Ladakh,” the court directed.

It was further directed that a report of measures in place, steps underway and contemplated, be placed before the court by the next date of hearing.

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