Awareness rising, mindsets need to change | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Awareness rising, mindsets need to change

Men in khaki speak outThe surge in cases of crime against women in the tricity calls for serious introspection. The survey carried out by Hindustan Times in association with the Institute for Development and Communication on sexual harassment reveals women continue to be on the edge. Principal reporter Monica Sharma speaks to the top cops of the tricity to know the ground reality.

chandigarh Updated: Dec 10, 2013 17:37 IST
Monica sharma

Men in khaki speak outThe surge in cases of crime against women in the tricity calls for serious introspection. The survey carried out by Hindustan Times in association with the Institute for Development and Communication on sexual harassment reveals women continue to be on the edge. Principal reporter Monica Sharma speaks to the top cops of the tricity to know the ground reality.


TOP COPS SAY THOUGH WOMEN HAVE BECOME AWARE OF THEIR LEGAL RIGHT, A LOT MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE



RP Upadhyaya, inspector general of police, Chandigarh



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We have deployed anti eve-teasing squads. Besides this, PCR patrolling, cops dressed in civils also keep vigil at market places. Help is extended to all victims as per the law


What do you think about the surge in the number of sexual harassment complaints in your city?

Going by the number of cases registered and complaints received by the Chandigarh police, the statistics indicate a surge. But we call it a result of serious confidence-building awareness drives among girls taken over the past one year. We have interacted with a cross-section of people. This was aimed at sending out the message with the motto ‘do not tolerate but report’.

What has changed ever since the Delhi gang-rape case? Have women and the society at large become more sensitive and vocal about sexual harassment?

Definitely, there has been a positive change in society post the horrific incident. The society at large and media in particular should be complimented for the positive change. Victims are encouraged to come forward and report cases of sexual harassment.


Can the law alone change the present situation?

As a policeman, I would not like to comment as it would appear like passing the buck. We are responsible for the implementation of law and the Chandigarh police are doing it. But at a personal level, we and the society need to introspect. A family plays the biggest role in this. We need to teach our children to respect women and girls.

Women feel unsafe at public places and commuting at night. What is being done to make them feel secure? Are there any specific areas of concern?

I don’t want to deny, but women don’t feel confident to venture out at night. We have deployed anti eve-teasing squads. Besides this, PCR patrolling, cops dressed in civils also keep vigil at market places. A scheme has been launched wherein women are dropped at their homes between 12pm to 4am. They can call on PCR number 100.

What is being done to check the ever-increasing problem of stalking and sexual harassment of girls outside schools and colleges?

As per the recent Criminal Amendment Act, stalking is a cognisable offence. We have undertaken various awareness programmes at colleges and other institutes highlighting the legal rights for girls and women. Self defence and other programmes have also been organised in city colleges to sensitise women.





Women are stalked and harassed online too. What efforts, if any, have been made to check this and punish the perpetrators?

This is a negative side of technological advancement. The misuse of social networking sites such as Facebook and internet has led to a spurt in online harassment cases. The Chandigarh police started a specific cyber cell this year to deal with such complaints.

The victims of sexual harassment are reluctant to complain to the police. What is being done to create peoples’ confidence in the police force?

The Indian society at large used to think that whatever happened to a victim was due to her own actions. A woman’s behaviour, dress and attitude were blamed. But time has changed and the society now looks at her as a victim. Help is extended to her as per the law.

Rajbir Deswal, commissioner of police, Ambala-Panchkula



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The social fabric has to change for which social experts and the intelligentsia will have to come forward to educate the masses. A serious debate is needed to bring the desired result.


What do you think about the surge in the number of sexual harassment complaints in your city?

The surge is an indicator that we take a serious note of sexual harassment complaints and initiate action instantaneously. The DGP of Haryana has fixed the duration of cases. While a rape case has to be sent to court in 30 days, molestation cases take 15 days. The awareness created by the media has encouraged women to report such incidents. The police are also alert.


What has changed ever since the Delhi gang-rape case? Have women and the society at large become more sensitive and vocal about sexual harassment?

Yes, women have become increasingly aware of their rights. They have learnt to assert and don’t act as mute spectators anymore. They have learnt to take on the perpetrators of crime against women. This has brought a drastic change in the society for the better.


Can the law alone change the present situation?

The law alone will not change much for it can be misused too. The social fabric has to change for which social experts and the intelligentsia will have to come forward to educate the masses. A serious debate is needed to bring the desired result.


Women feel unsafe at public places and commuting at night. What is being done to make them feel secure? Are there any specific areas of concern?

Women in the most developed societies as well should be careful enough to keep trouble at bay. Exercising caution is warranted. Some places are not safe for men too. More cops have been deployed in market and public places, especially during the night.

What is being done to check the ever-increasing problem of stalking and sexual harassment of girls outside schools and colleges?

We regularly deploy women PCRs at educational institutions. Stalking is an offence which is known only after it has been committed. It’s only the repeated offence that can be prevented. This can be done by putting the perpetrators on surveillance or posing the threat of an enhanced punishment, as envisaged under the new law.


Women are stalked and harassed online too. What efforts, if any, have been made to check this and punish the perpetrators?

We keep organising workshops and sensitise our force on such complaints. We also held a workshop on December 7 to educate investigating officers on various techniques to combat this menace. Cyber laws are being implemented and cyber cells are well-equipped.

The victims of sexual harassment are reluctant to complain to the police. What is being done to create peoples’ confidence in the police force?

We are encouraging women activists and counsellors to educate girls to come forward and report such cases. Women need not suffer in silence anymore. We have also come up with a women helpline so that the complainant does not have to feel apprehensive reporting the matter.



Inder Mohan Singh, senior superintendent of police, SAS Nagar



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The society at large also needs to play an effective role. Until the masses play a proactive role, change cannot be brought about. This is the need of the hour.


What do you think about the surge in the number of sexual harassment complaints in your city?

There are various reasons for the surge in the number of incidents. The de-generation of values in society and increase in consumption of drugs are responsible for the spurt in sexual harassment complaints. In fact, the lyrics and videos of some songs instigate the youth to indulge in sexual harassment. Women are also aware and don’t tolerate harassment anymore.

What has changed ever since the Delhi gang-rape case? Have women and the society at large become more sensitive and vocal about sexual harassment?

The scenario has changed to a large extent after the horrific incident on December 16. There is a lot of awareness in society and among women in particular. Unlike before, women don’t keep issues under wraps and report problems being faced by them in public and at work places.

Can the law alone change the present situation?

Law is needed to bring about a change. It is needed for the strict enforcement of rules. But this is not enough. The society at large also needs to play an effective role. Until the masses play a proactive role, change cannot be brought about. This is the need of the hour.

Women feel unsafe at public places and commuting at night. What is being done to make them feel secure? Are there any specific areas of concern?

The main focus is on immediate response in the minimum time. We have increased police presence at night, besides deploying a special women force to attend to the complaints of women in distress. Our main concern is to help women, especially at odd hours.

What is being done to check the ever-increasing problem of stalking and sexual harassment of girls
outside schools and colleges?

Elaborate arrangements have been put in place to check eve-teasing and stalking. Surprise checks are being conducted outside educational institutes to nab the hooligans. The miscreants are being dealt with in a strict manner. This will act as a deterrent. Girls in colleges and schools are also encouraged to report such complaints.


Women are stalked and harassed online too. What efforts, if any, have been made to check this and punish the perpetrators?

Women should not display their personal details on social media sites. Cyber investigation is technical and for this, we depend on the cyber cell. As the district police are not well-equipped to deal with such complaints, a cyber cell has been constituted in this regard.

The victims of sexual harassment are reluctant to complain to the police. What is being done to create peoples’ confidence in the police force?

Steps have been initiated to make women comfortable while approaching the police. Women cops have been asked to handle complaints made by girls. Secrecy is maintained if the complainant doesn’t want her identity revealed.

Share your story

It’s a matter often discussed in drawing rooms, but seldom does it lead to introspection. HT invites readers — male and female — to write in with their experiences, personal and witnessed, of sexual harassment. You can choose to keep your identity hidden, and try to write in not over 250 words. Keep in mind, each story will add to the collective consciousness of a society that needs cleansing. Play your part. Talk to us at chandigarh@hindustantimes.com