August 23, 2002, Chandigarh, India
New Delhi, August 22
The unpleasant experiences faced by women at bus stops do not just end at obscene overtures, offers of a lift and indecent proposals by nouveau riche men at the wheels of fancy cars. The increasing incidents of rape in moving cars has added to the worries and fears of parents about the safety of their daughters.
The prowlers, on the other hand, take advantage of the indifferent attitude of bystanders and the absence of the police.
Delhi Police Commissioner R.S. Gupta, however, dismisses impressions posing a question mark on women’s safety in Delhi as “media creation.”
“Why are you getting this impression?,” he asked. Referring to the car-rape case reported on Tuesday, Mr Gupta said the suspect had termed the allegations as false. He stressed “We take this a very serious crime. If anybody reports to us, we will take action immediately. We posted our men in plain clothes in North Delhi and prevented untoward incidents by arresting 12 persons. We have covered areas which are prone to such crimes.”
Joint Commissioner of Police (Training) Kiran Bedi in her Sunday column in a national daily has reported tales narrated to her by nursing staff of a government hospital. The women told her that pickup girls loiter around at bus stops. “The women going for duties waiting at the bus stops are also suspected to be call girls. Men hovering around in their cars pass all kinds of indecent comments. There is no police official around to complain to, nor, perhaps are these persons in cars or women at the bus stops afraid of the police.”
Dr Bedi has suggested “correct positioning of women police officers in plain clothes’’ to catch such men. “If this is kept as a regular exercise all over the city, the element of fear of getting caught will increase and rid the roads of these prowlers,” she says.
Realising the growing vulnerability of women on Delhi roads, women organisations led by the All-India Democratic Women Association have decided to hold a demonstration in front of Police Headquarters on August 27. AIDWA General Secretary Brinda Karat says that the solution does not lie in having the police at every corner. “You cannot turn this into a police city. A city where two-thirds of the rape cases are of minors is hostile to women. The answer to this has to be a more responsible and a more sensitive citizenry.”
Women activist and former member of the National Commission for Women Syeda Hameed observes “One notices that there is a deadening of the conscience of the people in the entire country as exemplified by the fact that people watched a mentally challenged girl being raped in a local train in Mumbai recently. What is happening to the psyche of the people? The Delhi police is so demoralised because of political pressures. Girls do not feel comfortable approaching a lumpen police. They are more scared of the police than the molester. Recruitment of more women in the police force can help boost confidence of girls in the police. There should be thousands of Yamin Hazarikas,”she said.
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