How safe is Delhi for women? This question has been often posed to the police and the government. It's time that the community also confronted the reality and did its bit.
Arti (name changed), a resident of Bawana, gathered courage to confront a group of men who used to pass lewd remarks at her everytime she would step out. It was a group of women, all of whom had experienced similar problems, who gave her the courage to speak up.Their common pain brought them together and they took it upon themselves to stand up and speak out. Now, 17-year-old Arti can move about her locality without the fear of going through the trauma of lewd remarks.
Similarly, 25-odd calls from women from various quarters to the police control room resulted in the police acting swiftly and rescuing a woman who was abducted by a group of men on Saturday.
Community watch has done wonders when it comes to curbing burglary and theft.
Same can be replicated with regard to crimes against women.
"For police, nothing works better than active participation from the community. If a common man cooperates with the police, a lot of incidents can be nipped in the bud," said BK Gupta, former Delhi police commissioner.
"People in Delhi, especially women, don't come forward to complain because they know they will not get support from the onlookers. Men who harass women know that they have a sort of immunity since they are confident that neither the woman nor those watching them will raise an alarm. If people start reacting as well as reporting such crimes, irrespective of the degree or magnitude, it will create a fear among them," said Kalpana Viswanath, from Jagori, an NGO.
Sadly, community participation is minimal when it comes to tackling crimes such as men passing lewd remarks, groping women, stalking, molestation, and even rape. Delhi government had launched a community-led initiative 'Awaz Uthao' that focuses on changing this very mindset.
"Through street plays we are trying to create awareness in the society and informing women about their rights. We have engaged several NGOs who are organising street plays in west Delhi," said V Renganathan, additional CP (west).