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Violence against Women

“Violence against women is perhaps the most shameful human rights violation. And it is perhaps the most pervasive. It knows no boundaries of geography, culture or wealth. As long as it continues, we cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development, and peace.”

Kofi Annan,
Secretary-General of the United Nations

The rape victim in all parts of the world is railed against for being raped. Months ,after a magazine, published in the USA, was widely-criticized for an article about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia, the details of which proved unverifiable, those responsible, refused to take any real responsibility. Instead, editors at the magazine placed the blame for their errors where it so often ends up when it comes to sexual assault: on a young woman who alleges she was raped.

The multiple layers of mistakes and lapses of judgment by multiple editors, a fact-checker and possibly an in-house lawyer, instead of fully owning up to their obvious journalistic errors, blame their failures on “ caring “too much about rape victims. The editors have concluded that their main fault was to be too accommodating of Jackie, the victim, because she described herself as the survivor of a terrible sexual assault. “We were too deferential to our rape victim; we honored too many of her requests in our reporting. This is one manner of apportioning blame on the rape victim

The other way of blaming the victim is attack her attire and question her presence at the scene of crime. This happens so often in India. Despite the Ranaghat rape of a 72 year old woman in a nun’s habit a Goa Minister has the temerity to say that women in saris only are safe. The honest acceptance of the fact that women, irrespective of their attire or age, are not safe from the rapacious male any where and in any attire is an , unfortunate, fact and that is not easily conceded by most.

I, believe, these admissions will help those whose duty is to take step that can reduce the incidence of preventable crimes of criminal assaults against women. Bluntly stated ,its immoral, incorrect and vile to blame the victim for being raped. This is a cacophony of irreverent nonsense and must stop. Equally, reprehensible is publishing a rape account with out the minimum journalistic, check. There are instances of false allegation either to settle scores or extort advantage. For both kinds of reason these crimes need to be prevented and if they do take place honestly investigated and / or reported.

The following are some implementable steps , based on long years of watching crime against women in Delhi, to check crimes against women and more important, lay the cause of the crime on those all responsible for the crime.

1. Women in distress of any sort married with or without children or single are prime victims of male assaults and as such State should construct transit shelters at appropriate places managed by NGOs where they can seek shelter and can be provided shelter.

2.Complaint from a women that she is being stalked must receive satisfactory attention. A four digit single help line number effective throughout the state must be designated and publicized.

3.Slums and areas lacking civic amenities need deployment of police men and women to identify potential/actual eve teasers and deal with them before they commit the crime against them.

4.Help lines for women fearing criminal assault eve teasing or becoming victims of crime against them should function 24/7 in each police district. Action taken after receiving a distress call should be frequently monitored.

5.Complaints of molestation of women, outrage of modesty of women should be investigated swiftly. There may be other charges against the criminal too but that should not be the ground to delay finding on the sexual crimes.

6.Women beat constables should be tasked to develop contacts with women in areas where crime against women is reported to forestall crimes against women.

7. Wherever desirable surveillance by camera /manpower be mounted to detect such crimes or plans to commit such crimes.

8.Wherever necessary stalkers of women should be bound down for good behavior.

9. The ACR column of all police officers both women and men should have a column regarding his/her attitude towards women in distress.

10. There are intervention programs like Parivartan in Delhi Police which seeks to intervene with the help of the best in society to reduce violence against women and use of such programs in areas where such violence exists must be frequent.

11 Presence of beat staff and patrolling police in areas of crime against women should be periodically intensified.

12.Biometric data and id of all drivers involved in public services should be available with the Transport Department of each district/state. They must fear apprehension if involved in crime against women.

13. Eve teasing and molestation of women are harbingers of graver crime of violence against women. Success in reducing them should be publicized as it will send the right signal to check violence against women

14.Handling of crime against women requires training and selected officers should be so trained.

15. All District and State police should have a separate web site for Crime Against Women.

16. The Dos and Do not of Beat Constables of each Police Station should have suitable instructions to keep watch on habitual eve teasers and stalkers and prevent molestation of women in their respective Beats.

17. Periodically assessment of areas prone to crimes against women be carried out and measures to prevent /reduce sexual crimes put in place.

18. Bus stops are often scenes of crimes against women and proper presence of police in such bus stops be ensured.

19. Women returning from call centres at night and early morning should be dropped on their residence ‘s door and their safe entry inside their home be ensured . In Delhi and later NCR legal orders binding employers to ensure this exist .

20. Women Help Desks should function 24/7 in each Police Station and their performance checked at least each month by District Police Chiefs. Such Desks reduce the trauma of the Women Complainant.

21.Any women seeking safe transport, specially at night , should be so provided by the nearest PCR Van.

22.Accused- victim relationship should be established and from the data collected preventive measures put in place to eliminate/reduce future crime against women similarly placed .

23.Trial of rape cases be expedited by setting up of dedicated courts to try only rape cases.

24. Cases of rape in slums and areas inhabited by lower economic strata be analyzed from time to devise measures to prevent/reduce crimes against women in these areas.

25. Those tasked to respond to women in distress calling them on women help line must be periodically tested for suitability.

26. Regular feed back be obtained by superior police officers from Women Volunteers how Police Stations in general and women Help Desks respond to women complainants of crimes against them.

27. Crimes against women in public buses should be got reported by the bus conductor/driver to the nearest police out post/police station . Surveillance inside public buses through cameras mandated by law as its done on metro lines.

28. Gender sensitization should be part of training to all ranks in police training schools and colleges.

29.Women schools and colleges should have police deployment at the entrance for at least 30 minutes before the institutions commence classes . Similarly, 30 minutes after it closes for the day. Eve teasers and sex offenders be thwarted.

30.Women Volunteers should be got attached to police stations . They should be accredited properly and their services obtained to make the women complaint comfortable.

31. Wherever necessary help of licensed arm holders may be called upon to do duties in areas where women are subject to crimes against them.

32. As far possible areas near women schools and colleges be made off parking for the general public.

33. Regular meetings between heads of women educational institutions should take place to ascertain feed back on incidents that that could help local police to anticipate and prevent crime against the women students and women teachers of the institution.

34. Roads and Parks with poor lighting arrangement need better police deployment and other measures like surveillance cameras.

Rape and other crimes of violence against women where ever and whenever they take place are horrendous crimes.

Shantonu Sen.

With Inputs from the Guardian and the book CBI INSIDER SPEAKS published by Manas Publishing House.

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