SHILLONG, March 07: The United Democratic party (UDP) has questioned how Meghalaya can be promoted as a tourist destination in the midst of the rising number of rapee cases that are being reported in the state.
“How do we sell Meghalaya as a brand outside with such reports of rape in the state? Delhi has got a huge hit as even foreign countries have issued advisory to travelers. I don’t want Shillong to figure in such advisory,” UDP legislator Paul Lyngdoh said while moving a special motion on the issue in the Assembly here.
According to him, the complacent attitude towards the issue is bound to have a long felt negative impact on the inflow of tourists, economy of the state and others unless it is being dealt with iron hand and exemplary punishment to the guilty.
Referring to the upcoming International Women’s Day celebration, he said, “I hang my head in shame that Meghalaya will be noticed by the rest of the world for something as disgusting as this phenomenon of violence against women and children of many forms.”
He also pointed out the arrest of a sitting legislator for allegedly raping a minor, a case in which the name of the state’s Home Minister has been dragged besides the former Governor’s alleged involvement in a case of misconduct towards women.
Stating that the state has recorded a staggering 700 cases of rape from 2013 till date, he said that this has created a deep sense of insecurity among women and parents.
“We have reached a point where incidents of rape seem to be commonplace in which only this year from January 1 to February 23, a total of 23 rape cases has been reported. It has become a daily affair,” he said.
Lamenting on the low conviction rate, Lyngdoh said that out of 149 rape cases in 2010, there were only 4 convictions and 5 were discharged while there were no convictions and 20 discharged out of 130 cases in 2011.
In this backdrop, he said that the figures on the killing and abduction of women and children are even more grim and disturbing.
There were zero convictions out of 37 cases in 2011, 24 in 2012, 33 in 2013, 38 in 2014 and 58 in 2015, he added.
Stating that the issue has to be addressed with the urgency it warrants, Lyngdoh said, “It is time that we should reverse this trend and ensures the state, which was once known to have high respect for its women, should regain its lost glory.”
“Let this be a temporary phase we all are ready to change and come out of this nightmare and emerge as victors and not as victims of situations,” he added.
Meanwhile, the UDP demanded the state government to set up fast track courts for speedy trial of such cases.
Reminding the government of te effectiveness of the fast track courts, he said that in 2014, total of 521 out of 558 cases were disposed of by the fast track courts in the state.
“There is a need to continue these courts to ensure the end of justice,” Lyngdoh said while pointing out that the revenue leakage of Rs 600 crore last year could have been utilized for setting up such courts.
Quoting media reports with regards to an incident in the Directorate of Soil & Conservation, he also demanded setting up of the internal complaint committees as mandated by the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013.
“The state government should immediately invoke the provisions of this Act by constituting such committees to minimize chance of undue harassment and cruelty to women at workplace,” he added.
The UDP legislator also suggested the need to upgrade the state forensic laboratory besides asserting the need for the education policy to be re-oriented where respect and compassionate towards women are instilled.