Expressing serious concern over incidents of sexual violence against women, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday issued notices to the centre and all states and Union Territories seeking reports on the standard operating procedures to deal with such cases and use of the Nirbhaya Fund.
The NHRC said India is being criticised for having the "most unsafe environment for women". Taking note of media reports on "rising" cases of sexual assault, the NHRC issued notices to the chief secretaries of all states and UTs seeking reports within six weeks about the status of Nirbhaya Fund in their states, including details about availability of the fund and the money spent during the last three years.
The NHRC has also issued notices to the police chiefs of all states and UTs calling for their response within six weeks about the standard operating procedures and best practices adopted by them to deal with matters relating to sexual abuse and atrocities against women, including details of action taken against police officers or officials found insensitive and guilty of negligence towards issues related to women.
"The commission has also considered it necessary to call for a detailed report from the Secretary, Union Ministry of Women and Child Development, giving details about the schemes or guidelines initiated by the union government and status of their implementation, including Nirbhaya Fund, by the states and UTs. The response is expected within six weeks," the NHRC said.
It said that through media reports it has come to know that the amount made available under the Nirbhaya Fund has been "reduced and also not being appropriately utilised by the state governments".
The rights panel observed that there seems to be "lack of standard operating procedure (SOP)" to deal with incidents of sexual violence against women and emergency situations concerning the same.
It said when anyone goes to a police station seeking help over the disappearance of a girl or a woman, the police's answer generally remains that she might have eloped with someone.
"This humiliating and stereotype mindset is needed to be changed. There is need to effectively address the core issue as this serious challenge has not only created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty in our society but has also badly tarnishing the image of our country," the NHRC said.