Delhi police’s recent decision of allowing only women officers to investigate rape cases is being applauded by women activists and city girls.
Dharmendra Kumar, special commissioner (law and order) has directed all city DCPs to only allow women sub-inspectors to handle rape cases. "We have drawn up a list of 33 women officers — three from each district — to investigate such cases. The idea is to make the victim feel comfortable," says Kumar.
"It is very tormenting for a woman to report rape in a room full of men. Women hesitate from revealing details, which makes their case very weak. It’s great that now only women cops with deal with such cases," says Kuber Sharma, a human rights activist.
Nandita Chowdhary, a women’s rights activist agrees, "This move will definitely save victims from further humiliation. I am sure women now will be comfortable reporting such cases."
Meanwhile, city girls also believe that not only rape cases, but all cases of sexual harassment should be dealt by lady cops. "I was molested outside my college few months ago, by two bikers. When I approached the PCR van parked close by, the cops asked me all kinds of weird questions which made me very uncomfortable. I regret my decision of reporting the matter. It would have been much simpler to share all this with a woman," says Shalu Kumar (name changed), a student of Delhi University.
Pulkit Sharma, psychologist says, "It’s always easier and comforting for women to confide in other women."
Is Indian law easy on molesters?
The recent case of Steven Sherriff, a British national who may face a sentence of 15 years for pinching a woman’s butt in Dubai has posed questions on the legal system related to such cases in India. “Our legal system is quite disoriented. The laws focus on the accused, and not the victim. That’s why there is hardly any fear of law,” says Meenakshi Lekhi, lawyer, Supreme Court.
In India, If a man pinches a woman’s butt, he can be booked under section 354 of the Indian Penal Code — for assault or criminal force, with intent to outrage a woman’s modesty.
It entails imprisonment for 2 years, or fine, or both. “It’s a bailable offence in most Indian states, and involves only a formal arrest. So, molesters are often not scared. The society undermines such crimes. You hear things like: what’s the big deal, he only pinched her butt, he must have been drunk,” adds Lekhi.
Kuber Sharma, human rights activist says, “There is hardly any implementation of law in India. Once a friend approached the cops after being molested and I was appalled to hear the cops say that butt pinching is not a big deal.”