In 2019, Hanns Seidel Stiftung India was able to achieve some important project goals with local partner organizations – in the foundation’s effort to strengthen federal democratic structures, to introduce concepts for safer cities, to shape water policies and to provide women empowerment in various parts of India.
The second chapter is on our work on safe cities. With our projects we strive to make cities safer for women and children. Through trainings on human rights, gender equality and rule of law for Government Representatives, Police and NGOs, we support a cooperation of all stakeholders on women and victim protection in Karnataka and Maharashtra.
With our partner organisation Global Concerns India (GCI) we conducted workshops with public prosecutors, district judges, police officers from the Karnataka State Police, and panchayat heads to expand knowledge on existing laws and procedures regarding the implementation of women and victim protection with a focus on rights-based perspectives. Some have had immediate effects.
After attending one of the GCI-HSF workshops in Chikkabalapur, a Sundar Police Inspector of Tumakura immediately registered the case of a 15 year-old rape victim. He requested the support of GCI to complete the medical investigation. The minor's statement was recorded before the magistrate and the accused arrested and charged in less than 4 weeks. When the perpetrator was given bail within 10 days of being arrested, after a couple of meetings by the police together with GCI, the magistrate and the prosecutors, bail was revoked by the judge and the perpetrator continues to be in jail till date.
Global Concern India further approached the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority in 2019 on the matter of victim compensation. The Authority is since then collating statistics on amount, delays and reasons on victim compensation in Karnataka.
Gender-based violence is a problem in all countries and all society. Laws (Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, PWDVA) and structures exist (protection officers in each district by the Women and Child Development Department). But effective legal service can only be assured if victims are aware and stakeholders are empowered to handle all cases. In Pune District, we impart legal awareness trainings together with the organisation Chetna Mahila Vikas Kendra (CMVK).
In 2019, we held 36 workshops on the Domestic Violence Act for ASHA/Anganwadi workers, Protection Officers and staff of the Women and Child Development ministry. After making them aware of domestic violence, many participants approached CMVK with cases of domestic violence either of themselves, their neighbours or family members. In view of the large number of cases, we set up a Victim Support Service with CMVK, and in 2019 we helped 129 women in various cases of domestic violence by providing, among other things, legal advice, counselling and shelter home.
In December, we brought together German members of Parliament, NGOs, common people and police to interact on the issue and mechanisms of safety of women in our cities. This platform – co-organised by Janaagraha – provided new impulses by the guests as well as the hosts, the Bengaluru City Police’s Community and two speakers of the Standing Committee of Economic Cooperation and Development of the German Federal Parliament
It was a step closer to understanding and cooperation between civil society and the authorities.
"Domestic violence, access to safe public spaces, education and livelihood opportunities are some of the challenges to women safety in India’s cities”
– Bhaskar Rao, Bengaluru City Police Commissioner