Hyderabad: Women’s cause needs leader

Activists across city demand appointment of women’s commission chief.

Hyderabad: The last chairperson of the Telangana State Commission for Women, Tripurana Venkataratnam, demitted office in July 2018; since then the commission has been headless. The commission deals with a variety of cases to do with women such as domestic abuse, being abandoned by non-resident Indian husbands, and forced marriages of young girls. Only lip service is paid to ensuring protection and justice for women; when it comes to a practical measure such as ensuring that the Commission works to this end, there is complete apathy.

Women’s groups across the city are demanding that the post be filled. The Women and Child Welfare department has shortlisted candidates for the post and sent the file to Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao’s office where it is gathering dust. A senior official in the Women and Child Welfare department said that the Disha incident (the abduction and rape of a young woman last year which made headlines) “had led to a lot of activity in the state. At that time, there were five women candidates. The file was put before the CM’s office but there is no response yet. The department and minister are also pursuing it but it will take time.”

Lack of funds is said to be one reason for the laggardly attitude, but since it is unlikely that the chairperson will be paid a princely sum, this sounds trivial. The safe city programme which was announced jointly by the police and Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation is also trailing, because, apparently, there are no funds to raise awareness on women’s safety! The only work being carried out is Dial 100 to direct women to seek help when in danger. The state women’s wing has carried out awareness programmes in schools and colleges and will resume in the next academic year, though lack of awareness can hardly be said to be an issue.

Non-government women’s groups in the city contend that a chairperson is required to give directions and guidance and ensure that there is always á focus on women’s issues.

National Commission for Women chairperson Rekha Sharma has written two letters to Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao and the chief secretary, reminding them about the vacant position. A tweetathon was also organised on Jan. 18, 2020.

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