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Other States - West Bengal Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Capital remains unsafe for women

The alleged abduction and rape of a young college student by a businessman at Moti Nagar a couple of days ago has given credence to prevailing public perception that the Capital's streets have become unsafe for citizens, particularly women.

The shocking incident took place in the afternoon when the 50-year-old accused allegedly pulled the first year graduation student inside his vehicle that had tinted glasses. The police subsequently found that the accused was previously booked for a similar offence but had been acquitted later.

“Such incidents do create a sense of insecurity among the public. Though the accused has been arrested in this case, the damage caused to the victim is irreparable,” conceded a police officer, adding that strong measures should be taken to bring down such crimes.

A recent survey undertaken jointly by NGO Jagori and UN Habitat in collaboration with the Delhi Government and UNIFEM has highlighted several aspects of the vulnerability of women at public places.

As per the survey findings -- based on the responses of over 5,000 women and men in different parts of the city -- women are most vulnerable to sexual harassment at roadside and in public transport.

“Almost two out of every three women have faced sexual harassment between two and five times in the past year.”

“Mistrust of the police force is high and most women did not think that they could approach the police in time of need,” it stated.

Reluctance to seek police action was reflected in the survey as only 0.8 per cent women reported such incidents. A large number of women avoided secluded or crowded places, hesitated wearing certain clothes and even refrained from going out alone after dark.

Many respondents avoided approaching the police for fear that they would be blamed for the incident. Others feared that cops would trivialise the incident. Still others felt the process was too tedious or that the police would merely record the incident.

Many were of the view that the incident might have an adverse effect on the individual or her family. Over 44 per cent of the respondents felt the police would not act upon the complaint.

Appreciating these concerns, the police should reorient their approach to provide better security. Active presence apart, more steps need to be taken to zero in on anti-social elements. With intelligent use of surprise picketing, those committing roadside crimes should be contained. Circumstances demand that vehicles with two or more men in them be randomly checked.

This would act as a deterrent and instil a sense of fear in criminals. The police can now consider recommending cancellation of the licences of those using unauthorised films to tint the vehicle glasses.

Devesh K. Pandey

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