Women of Courage
Hitting back: Their extraordinary courage and strength has set a precedent for others. Not bowing down to pressure and taking up cudgels to fight miscreants; to see the perpetrators behind bars: these are the ‘Women of Courage’. Monica Sharma talks to three women from tricity who displayed exemplary bravery to safeguard themselves and others from harassmentchandigarh Updated: Dec 13, 2013 11:39 IST
Iqbalpreet Kaur, Physics lecturer; DAV College, Sector 10
Saved a girl from being raped by a gardener
It was early November and the chill had started to make its presence felt in the city. My niece and I were driving down to the market on the road dividing Sectors 66-67, near the National Institute of Pharmaceutical and Education Research (NIPER) in SAS Nagar, on November 6. It was around 7 pm.
As we traversed through the road, we could hear a girl’s shrieks. Though we could not figure out what was happening, we could sense that somebody was in trouble. I slowed down the car and noticed a girl shouting for help, even as a man followed her.
Outside, it was pitch dark and the visibility was low. I stopped my car and kept the headlights on to have a clear view of things. The headlights guided my way through the bushes. I was aghast to see an unidentified man trying to drag a hapless girl into the bushes along the road. I rushed to save the 20-year-old victim and pushed the man. The girl also resisted his moves and we both tried to give him a sound beating. In the meantime, we raised an alarm and three more girls joined us. I asked one of the girls to immediately call up the police control room number. We called up the cops at least three to four times. However, they took at least 20 minutes to arrive, even though the Phase XI police station is just a few meters away from the spot.
We detained the accused until the police came. He was later identified as Jaswinder Singh, a gardener. The victim stated that she did not know the accused.
The incident took place when she was walking down the road to reach her paying guest accommodation in Sector 66, when the accused tried to rape her. He has been booked for rape at the Phase XI police station.
Simranjit Kaur Gill, Law graduate preparing for civil services
‘I won’t stop teaching boys a lesson’
I always make it a point to teach a lesson to boys, who zip past city roads at high speed and pass lewd comments to girls or stalk them. I did law from Panjab University. It is a usual sight to see youngsters commenting on girls, stalking or misbehaving with them on the campus. On November 8, I along with my two other friends was going towards the gurdwara on the Panjab University campus, Sector 14, Chandigarh.
While crossing the road near Ankur School, a rashly-driven I20 zip passed us. The youths returned and slowed down their vehicle to meet our walking pace. Loud music was blaring out of the car’s speaker.
They passed derogatory comments. I noted down the car’s registration number and dared them to alight from the vehicle. The youths entered into a verbal argument and got abusive. I immediately called up the police control room number and in the meantime, the youths left the spot. The police arrived in no time and nabbed them within 20 minutes. The three youths, hailing from Dhanas, attended evening classes at the university.
Initially, they denied that they were seated in the car. I was summoned by the police to identify the miscreants. I could recognise only one of them. The parents’ of the youths were also summoned, following which the boys apologised. I did not pursue the matter further nor register a case on the insistence of their parents. However, I warned the youths not to indulge in unruly behaviour again.Aditi Kaith, Student of MCM-DAV College, Sector 36
Chased a stalker and handed him over to the police
With my earplugs on, I was jogging in Sector 8, Chandigarh, on October 27. All of a sudden, a youngster came and stood opposite me. He started peeing on the pavement. I ignored him and continued jogging. The following day, I went by my usual routine and went for a stroll.
Suddenly, the same cyclist came from the behind and patted me on my derriere. I was so offended, I stood in the middle of the road and requested people to help me. Suddenly, a passer-by stopped his car. He was courteous enough and gave me a lift in his vehicle. We chased the cyclist down the road and nabbed him on the next turn. I immediately called up the police control room at 100. The police arrived in 10 minutes. The youngster was identified as a student, who worked as a newspaper vendor.
The accused was identified as Vinod Kumar of Sector 7. A case was registered against him under Section 354 (outraging modesty of a woman), IPC.
Change evident, but slow
Punjab is renowned for honouring women’s dignity. Tempers boil at the drop of hat, and heaven forbid, if someone makes a stray remark on the izzat of the family — The Woman.
However, we also have one of the highest percentage of cases rape, assault, eve-teasing, groping and molestation.
Not to forget the trend of throwing acid, scarring the girl’s face forever, just because she had the audacity to say ‘no’ to a man.
My own hometown of Chandigarh has the highest cases of abortions and the percentage of molestation is quite high.
Coming to the hinterland, Doab, where I am in my sylvan rural set-up, sab chalda hai is the attitude. Girls are supposed to know their place; supposed to be born with a radar to know which path not to take, and how to steer away from lecherous stares.
It’s interesting to note here, that all these unwritten laws, which we scoff on, are still in place. Women are treated as second citizens or maybe third or fourth after the cattle, land and the children! Women should be allowed to study and become independent, it’s an eyewash.
They are discouraged to study, work, and to even think. I have experienced this while running a school in the village where girls have to follow ‘invisible laws’ every year.
A society is a framework of rules that defines how we live and coexist. It differentiates us from animals. But, in the present state of affairs, we have become worse than animals.
Men rape, kill and assault women. The judicial system has more loopholes. Nothing has changed after the Delhi gang-rape incident of last year.
The Nirbahaya case got widespread media exposure and the issue was raised. But what happened? Did things change for the better? Nothing.
Every rapist knows his quantum of sentence is seven years with parole for a good time and a paltry fine! What a sham, mockery of a law. Just because God decided men and women are different, the former have a right to ‘maul’ us.
Until we don’t teach men how to respect a woman, the society will not change.
Yes, the change is there but so minute, that it needs to snowball into a revolution.
This is what should be on the manifesto of all parties fighting for a change in the upcoming elections. Also, the defunct, dead judicial system seriously needs to be upgraded. Don’t make a mockery by saying, “Oh! the accused is a juvenile, he can go scot-free.”
If a minor boy can behave like an animal, he is old enough to face the noose.
I hope this initiative does not die its natural death. I hope it raises a point to change the mindset of the youth for the betterment of the country.
Women harassed at work
The recent incident of a young woman journalist being sexually assaulted by her editor shook the country. The victim mustered courage and raised her voice following which, the case came to light. Else, the matter would have been suppressed and resolved internally.
This reminded me of a similar incident that took place with my colleague.
A few years ago, I was working with a software company in Noida as the team lead — a woman subordinate assisted me in the testing.
The development team was being led by another team lead. I and my subordinate were managing our work to the best of our capability, following all processes and fulfilling the expectations of clients.
However, the development lead was not able to ‘cope up’ with my subordinate’s working style and communication skills. She later brought to my notice that the development lead also indulged in lewd behaviour.
One day, he lost his temper and shouted at her; the following day he made derogatory comments. Our manager, sitting in the very next bay, heard the entire incident but did not initiate action. It is professionally unethical to indulge in character assassination of any colleague.
My conscience forced me to raise my voice. I sent an official mail to my manager explaining the entire incident and requesting action by the HR.
To my disbelief, our manager stated that the development lead may have acted on those lines as per the job requirement and took no action against him.
However, the main reason behind keeping the issue under wraps was that the development lead was a ‘critical resource’ and any action against him could have hampered the project and the company’s profit, thereby affecting the manager’s variable salary component.
Later, during the appraisal, the development lead was promoted and I suffered for raising my voice to preserve my colleague’s dignity.
The workplace is where most women face sexual harassment. At times, they are asked to do something ‘extra’ to secure a good appraisal. We want to create a healthy working culture for women. But are women ready to raise their voice against such exploitation? Is a company’s HR ready to play the role they should? Is the corporate world ready to take action against the culprits at the cost of its monetary benefits? These questions are yet to be answered.
How safe are women in tricity?
Nobody can harass a cop
When you are in a disciplined force, no one can misbehave or harass you. Women are harassed in public when they don’t know the legal procedure. DSP Shweta Chauhan
I have not come across any such incident where women police personnel have been harassed. Women police are trained to tackle such situations. Sub-inspector Usha Rani
Keep tabs on children
Safety is in our hands. Parents and teachers play an important role in a girl’s life. Girls should dress up properly and not venture out late at night to avoid any untoward incident. Gurpreet Kaur, Chandigarh
Men pass lewd comments
I don’t think the city is safe for girls. Men pass lewd comments and even stalk. The word ‘chinki’ has become synonymous with my name. Youtol Lamo, Ladakh
Change your mindset
Chandigarh is quite safe. I can’t say about other places around the city. At the same time, if I compare ‘City Beautiful’ with the West, things are so different there. Sukhdeep Kaur Dosanjh, NRI
Give more space to women
Compared to cities in Punjab, Chandigarh is quite safe for women. People move about freely without any apprehension. Due to police presence, residents feel secure. Angad Singh, student