Telangana govt launches portal for Women’s Commission but no chief for body yet

Activists have been asking the Telangana government to appoint a chairperson since 2018, and no action was taken even after the Disha case surfaced last year.
Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao
Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao
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Two years of relentless campaigning by activists finally yielded results as the Telangana government launched a website for the State Women’s Commission on Tuesday, which will now enable women to lodge complaints online. Hyderabad-based women's rights activist, Spurthi Kolipaka had launched a petition in July 2018 asking Minister of Municipal Administration and Urban Development KT Rama Rao to make the State Women’s Commission fully functional. The commission has been defunct for the past two years without a chairperson. 

Tripurana Venkataratnam, who was serving as the chairperson of State Women’s Commission, demitted office in July 2018 and since then, the government had not found a replacement.

In the petition, Spurthi also pointed out that besides a defunct commission, the government did not even have a working website with annual reports, legal documents and other data. 

Nearly 30,000 persons endorsed the petition, which had two demands — appoint a chairperson and make the commission fully functional, and design a website to register complaints online. 

Elated with the government’s response, Spurthi on Tuesday said, “Well, it took us 2 years 4 months 19 days of advocacy coupled with RTIs, meeting key stakeholders/ decision makers, pending hearing in High Court, tweetathons, advocacy by key stakeholders/ senior feminists/ pioneer NGOs of the sector, etc. And, the result makes all the efforts worth it! (sic).”

She added, “This is a step towards long-term sustainable change. Women can now file complaints from anywhere across the state, the IMIS (Institute for the Management of Information Systems) also shows district-wise filed complaints and status. This data is available in the public domain. We don't have to keep looking around in vain for data any more!”

In February this year, the National Commission for Women (NCW) had directed Telangana Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar to immediately appoint a chairperson. “It is shocking that the state of Telangana, which recently saw one of the most horrific crimes against women in recent times, does not have a chairperson for the state commission. It is unacceptable that a state women's commission has remained virtually nonfunctional for nearly two years,” National Commission for Women (NCW) Chairperson Rekha Sharma had said. 

The NCW Chairperson was referring to the Disha case, where a veterinarian was brutally raped and murdered in Hyderabad last year. The case had triggered protests across India, with many highlighting the lack of safety for women in the state and in the country. The Telangana High Court has also repeatedly pulled up authorities for failing to fill up the post. Despite this, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government led by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao is yet to appoint a chairperson.

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