Demands for safety of women grew louder in 2012
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Demands for safety of women grew louder after the brutal gangrape of a 23-year-old student in 2012 which saw the Women and Child Development Ministry battling with issues like high levels of malnutrition and declining child sex ratio.
The ministry held separate consultations with various stakeholders on stricter laws on sex crimes against women and enhanced punishment to perpetrators. WCD Minister Krishna Tirath advocated that the juvenile involved in the gangrape case should be treated as an exception and not let off lightly considering the seriousness of the crime.
Earlier in the year, the government constituted a high- level committee on status of women to undertake a comprehensive study to understand the current status of women and evolve appropriate policy interventions based on a contemporary assessment of their needs.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2012 was piloted by the WCD ministry. The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on September 3 and is expected to be taken up for consideration and passing in the Rajya Sabha in the Budget Session, 2013.
The ministry also initiated the process for amendments in the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act.
In November, a nationwide campaign against malnutrition involving actor Aamir Khan was launched.
With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calling malnutrition a national shame, the WCD ministry tried to improve health and nutrition standards by providing education and dietary supplements to women and children through its network of anganwadi centres.
The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme which among other things aims at providing nutritional support was further strengthened last year with more than 97 projects and 14486 AWCs made operational. A proposal for strengthening and restructuring ICDS Scheme was approved by the Cabinet in September.
The WCD ministry also succeeded in getting passed a special law for the protection of children from sexual crimes - the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 - which was passed by Parliament in May, 2012.