Pipili: In 2005, the Odisha government had passed an order to set up a 'Woman & Child' desk in every police station in the state. Eight years on, the scheme seems to exists only on paper.
40-year-old Anganwadi worker, is a victim of dowry torture, but for over two months the Pipili police station has not acted. The absence of any lady officer there, is part of the problem. "I cannot express myself fully before the male police officer. I don't feel comfortable. I feel if there would have been a woman police officer my case could be better handled. I have no idea where is my case heading," says the torture survivor.
The Pipili police station is already infamous. In November 2011, an Inspector there refused to register a rape and murder complaint. Public protest led to the sacking of the Inspector and the state minister elected from Pipili. Yet of the 511 cases registered there in 2012, only 17 were crimes against women.
In 2005, the Odisha police decided to set up 'Woman & Child' desks in all its police stations to be headed by a lady police officer, assisted by at least one lady constable. They would meet complainants in a separate room, and provide counselling, shelter and legal aid with the help from recognised NGOs.
CNN-IBN visited police stations across Bhubaneswar, Capital Police Station, Kharvel Nagar, Laxmi Sagar, Mancheswar and Sahid Nagar, but the Women & Child Desk was not functioning in any of them.
Banita Maharana, SI, Sahid Nagar Police Station, Bhubaneswar said, "Woman and child desk is just in pen and paper. We do not have the infrastructure and the manpower to implement the order."
The Odisha police chief has also accepts the problem. Prakash Mishra, DG, Odisha Police, said, "We understand that for the desk we need a separate room and we have asked the centre to give separate funding for this. We hope to implement it in another three to four months."
The hostile atmosphere in Odisha's police stations and poor quality of police investigations explain why even as 1,100 rapes are registered in Odisha every year, the conviction rate is just 1 per cent. The absence of the woman and child desks in Odisha's police stations shows that this shocking statistic does not bother the Odisha government.