In the 2013 budget session, the then finance minister P Chidambaram announced the creation of the Nirbhaya fund. Set up in the aftermath of the horrific rape of Jyoti Singh in December 2012, the fund was created as a corpus under the Department of Economic Affairs (DoE) to finance initiatives concentrating on women’s safety. The appropriation bill—a motion that authorises the government to spend the money—was approved on 9 September 2013, six months after the fund was established. However, the initial fund was still not available for use as the Department of Expenditure only opened a public account in January 2014—almost a year after the announcement was made.
Since then, the fund has seen dismal performance under the current government. A 16 December 2014 report by the Standing Committee on Finance took the DoE to task for “parking of funds over the years pending formulation and approval of Schemes matching the allocation.” In the subsequent budgets of 2014 and 2015, allocations of Rs 1000 crore each were made but were never utilised.
Data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on 16 October 2015 show that the number of reported crimes against women in the country has more than doubled in the last decade. It is important to note that these figures do not accurately represent the state of affairs at the ground level but merely the nature of cases that are reported to the authorities. Crimes against women often go unreported for fear of the consequent social censure, harassment or even attempts to “burk” data. Nationwide and local data would seem to attest, however that the measures suggested to combat crimes against women are not only mismanaged, but plagued by apathy on behalf of the states and the police machinery at large.