The conclusion of Hindustan Times’ week-long series on the rape menace in the Capital saw police chief BS Bassi and Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal come together to talk about making the city safer for women and finding lasting solutions.
The four-part series highlighted areas in the city with the highest rape reports.
Bassi and Maliwal, perceived to be on opposing sides after the recent confrontation between the AAP government and the police force, affirmed they would work together to ensure a better environment for women. They were joined by civil society activists Ranjana Kumari and Kalpana Viswanath at the brainstorming session.
The encounter between Bassi and Maliwal also came on the same day the DCW chief wrote to the top cop seeking information on several complaints of crimes against women — including rape, molestation and sexual harassment — in the city from 2012 onwards.
Maliway also sought to know the total strength of the city police force and the number of women in its ranks in order to conduct a study on women’s safety.
“We need to work in collaboration with the police and the government for better infrastructure. We also need to improve policing and have a redressal mechanism for cases where the police do not act,” Maliwal said at the HT session.
Agreeing on the need for cooperation, Bassi said both the police and government should not waste time on post-mortems and work towards concrete results.
“Rather than focus on individual issues, we must look at the larger picture. We should see how we can move ahead together and we are ready for it. I hope to work in close coordination with the DCW as it can act as a bridge between the government and the police when it comes to crimes against women. The organisation can motivate other government agencies that don’t give any consideration to crimes against women,” he said.
However, drawing a direct correlation between rising cases of rape and the economic and living conditions of people, Bassi said it was ultimately the government that could actually make a difference.
Ranjana Kumari said the game of political football between the state, Centre and Delhi Police had affected the working of organisations set up to deal with such crimes. “We have to look at the condition of gender resource centres, rape crisis centres and crisis mediation centres and the way their working has been affected over the past few months. The poor condition of these centres is hitting ground work,” she said.
Infrastructure can make all the difference, said Kalpana Viswanath. “Having basics like toilets and streetlights in place goes a long way in making women feel safe but the city comes up short on these counts.” She also said there was a need to look at redressal systems beyond policing.