New Delhi: Paying a tribute to the 23-year-old Delhi braveheart, the government on Thursday announced setting up 'Nirbhaya Fund' of Rs 1,000 crore for safety and empowerment of women. Nirbhaya (fearless) was the pseudonym given to the victim to hide her actual identity. The announcement of Rs 1,000 crore fund was made by Finance Minister P Chidambaram while presenting the Union Budget for 2013-14 in the Lok Sabha amid thumping of desks by members.
"Recent incidents have cast a long, dark shadow on our liberal and progressive credentials. As more women enter public space - for education or work or access to services of leisure - there are more reports of violence against them," Chidambaram said. Noting that all have a collective responsibility to ensure dignity and safety of women, the minister said, "We stand in solidarity with our girl children and women. And we pledge to do everything possible to empower them and to keep them safe and secure."
He said a number of initiatives are underway and "many more" will be taken by the government as well as non-government organisations. "These deserve our support. As an earnest of our commitment to these objectives, I propose to set up a fund - let us call it the Nirbhaya Fund - and government will contribute Rs 1,000 crore," he said.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development and other ministries concerned will work out details of the structure, scope and application of the fund, he said. Following the public outrage in the wake of the incident, the government had earlier in February promulgated an ordinance to enhance punishment for crimes against women, including death for rapists in case the victim dies or is left in a vegetative state.
It had also set up the Justice JS Verma Committee to propose amendments to laws relating to crime against women. The ordinance has incorporated the recommendations of the three-member panel. A Commission of Inquiry was also established under Justice Usha Mehra to probe the lapses on part of the authorities in the December 16 gangrape incident.
Chidambaram, while announcing the Fund, cited the multifarious role a woman plays as a child, a young student, sportswoman, homemaker, working woman and mother. Chidambaram said that Women and Child Development Ministry and other ministries concerned will work out the details of the structure, scope and the application of the Fund.
The Delhi braveheart was gangraped and assaulted in a moving bus in south Delhi on December 16, 2012 and the incident had evoked nationwide protests demanding stringent punishment for sexual offenders. The girl had died in a Singapore hospital on December 29.