Krishna Tirath, Minister for Women and Child Development attended the 57th Session of the UN Commission on Status of Women in New York, yesterday, and participated in the High Level Round Table discussion. The theme for this year was ‘Elimination and Prevention of All forms of Violence against Women & Girls’. Addressing the participants, the Minister stated that violence against women and girls is amongst the most pervasive violations of human rights, representing a systematic pattern of behaviour which deny women their right to a life of dignity– whether it be in the private or the public spheres. In view of the rising spate of cases of violence against women, she said that the Government of India has been prioritizing issues related to the safety of women at the highest level with a holistic approach with a view to balance both preventive and curative aspects, proper and effective implementation of various laws and provisions available for safety of girls/women. Smt. Tirath elaborated on the legislative initiatives taken by the Government to address violence against women making special reference to the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005; Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace, 2013 which has just got passed by both Houses of the Parliament to ensure a safe environment for women at work places, both in public and private sectors whether organized or unorganized; and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 which came into force on 14thNov 2012. The Minister also mentioned the Justice J. S. Verma Committee set up for review of the existing criminal law and recommend amendments so as to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishments for criminals accused of committing sexual assault against women. She stated that considering the urgency to bring necessary changes to the criminal law, an Ordinance amending the Criminal Law was brought in by the Government on 3rd Feb, 2013, which took forward some of the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee and voices of other stakeholders. In addition to these, the Minister elaborated on other measures taken by the Government such as amendment of the Criminal Procedure Code for the purpose of providing compensation to the victims or victim’s dependents who have suffered loss or injury as a result of the crime and who require rehabilitation; formulation of a scheme for Financial Assistance and Support Services to rape victims where the scheme will provide support services such as shelter homes, counseling, medical aid, legal assistance, vocational training depending on the needs of the victim; and the a new scheme entitled “One Stop Crisis Centre for Women (OSCC)” which would bring the needed facilities for a woman in distress within one center. Smt. Tirath also mentioned that ‘Saksham’, a scheme that mobilizes young men and women at the grassroots level as change agents to achieve a “Violence Free India”, has been recently initiated by the Women and Child Development Ministry. Smt. Tirath further added that Ministry of Women and Child Development is holding series of stakeholder’s consultation with the civil society organizations, women’s activists, legal experts, jurists, including national and state level women’s machineries on the issue of promoting women’s safety.