Amid the spate of rape cases and state government’s move to enact Shakti Act, a newly appointed chairperson of the Maharashtra State Commission for Women Rupali Chakankar, who heads the state NCP’s women wing, in an interview with Sanjay Jog explains her priorities.
Q: What are your priorities as the government has filled up the post after one year and eight months?
A: Soon after the formation of the government, there was a crisis of Corona, so our priority was on health care. Therefore, it cannot be said that it is late. Now that the commission has a full-time chairperson, it will be my endeavour to fill the gap of two years in my next term. If you ask me about my priorities, I will say that my main agenda will be to strictly and effectively implement the provisions of the Constitution of India concerning women, the laws for women.
I am prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure effective enforcement of existing laws for women safety and women empowerment.
Q: Maharashtra has been hogging news due to spate of rape cases. As a chairperson how this should be curbed?
A: When a woman is raped, she is a victim of a male perverted mentality. My personal opinion is that if this mentality changes or ends, the rate of rape can come down. We must all work together on this.
Q: Despite Maharashtra govt talking about the enactment of Shakti Act there seems to be slow progress. Do you feel another act in addition to existing laws will help control crimes and violence against women and children? When will the Act be enacted?
A: The Maharashtra government is also urging that the Shakti Act be implemented in Maharashtra as soon as possible and Hon'ble Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil has said that the bill will be introduced in the legislature in the coming session.
As I said above, if men change their perverted mindset, the rate of violence against women will definitely decrease, but it can also happen more effectively if men have the fear of the law. So, I would say that the effective implementation of the old laws as well as the new Shakti Act will definitely help reduce these crimes.
Q: Maharashtra has been the leader in bringing in women empowerment policy but status of women is miserable. As a chairperson what are your views on this?
A: You also know that today Maharashtra is the most economically, socially and politically advanced state in the country. Maharashtra was the first state in the country to implement a women's policy and we are seeing good results in all areas today so I don't think that the status of women is miserable.
Q: The conviction rate is not remarkable in the state, how should this be improved?
A: I will write a letter to all the judges in the state to ensure that these offenses are prosecuted in the fast-track court and the culprits are punished as soon as possible. At the same time, my insistence that at least two of the ten old pending cases be tried in a fast-track court will play a role.
Q: Is the time ripe for 50 per cent reservation for women in assembly and parliament elections?
A; Yes, of course. With 50 per cent reservation in local bodies, women have gained a prominent place in political life today. And if the same reservation is applied in Parliament and the Legislature, I as a woman will definitely be happy.
Q: Priyanka Gandhi has announced Congress will give 40 per cent seats to women in Uttar Pradesh. What is your take?
A: Even though there is no legal reservation for women in the Legislative Assembly today. As a woman, I am certainly proud that Priyanka Gandhi took this step to honour women.