Giving thrust to women’s safety, the 2017-18 Kerala budget today set apart Rs 68 crore for various schemes to prevent atrocities against them, besides proposing a public register of sexual offenders. While announcing the measures in the budget presented in the Assembly, Kerala Finance Minister T M Thomas Issac said, “Atrocities against women are a disgrace to the Malayalee community.”
Women’s safety came under scanner yet again when a Malayalam actress was harassed for two hours inside her car after the accused forced their way into the vehicle in Kochi recently. Issac said Rs 68 crore has been provided for different schemes to prevent atrocities against women and focus on their rehabilitation. This includes Rs 12 crore for ‘Pink Control Room’ and self-defence training and Rs 34 crore for awareness campaigns.
Besides, Rs 19.5 crore will be allocated for shelter homes, short stay homes and ‘one-stop crisis centre’ and Rs three crore for two SOS model homes. A women’s police battalion, women police stations at taluk-level, panchayat-level visits of women police officers, public register for sexual offenders are the other pro-women initiatives in the budget.
On February 23, Governor Justice (Retd) P Sathasivam had said the Kerala government will launch a registry of sex offenders, the first of its kind in the country. It will contain all identification details of sex offenders and would be kept in public domain.
The state finance minister on Friday said Rs 5 crore has been earmarked for a special fund for protection and speedy rehabilitation of victims. A special department for women will be formed in the financial year 2017-18. The social welfare schemes for women, presently under the Social Justice Department, will be shifted to this new department. He said gender budgeting is being reinstated and the State Planning Board has prepared a document under which allocations for women’s development have been divided into two parts.
Part A includes 64 schemes exclusively for women beneficiaries with an allocation of Rs 1,060.50 crore. This amount will come to 5.23 per cent of the total state plan outlay, excluding the plan of local bodies, he said.
Part B includes general development schemes in which a special component for women or beneficiary numbers of women is distinguishable. “This will help in formulating more comprehensive document in the future,” he said. The minister said in the next year’s budget, gender audit report will also be placed in the House along with the gender budget statement.
The total outlay involved in 104 schemes is Rs 13,400 crore. Of this, Rs 1,266 crore is allocated exclusively for women. Thus at least 11.5 per cent of the total plan outlay has been set apart for women development.