Within just six months of its launch, a helpline number set up exclusively for women in distress has seen more than 800% increase in calls related to harassment in Gurgaon.
From 62 calls being made in November last year, the number has shot up to 512 in April. After harassment, domestic violence constitutes the second major chunk of calls made to the helpline. The number of calls increased from one in November 2012 to 63 in April. These statistics were retrieved by HT from the number 1091. Though there has been a significant increase in awareness, which has led to more incidents coming to lights, not much seems to have been done towards solving this woman safety problem.
“Majority of crimes against women are related to domestic violence. Most of the cases are not direct and come in the form of a child’s bed-wetting habit or a woman’s recurrent headaches. Most cases come from suburban middle-class families or urbanised villages,” explains Brahmdeep Sindhu, senior psychiatrist at General hospital in Gurgaon.
Sindhu, who is also the state representative of the Indian Psychiatric Society, says he sees about 2-5 such cases every day. A special task force, comprising women personnel from the departments of police, excise and labour, was set up in June last year after the abduction and gang-rape of a 23-year-old bar attendant on MG Road. However, the work of this task force is yet to be seen on the ground. Around 29 cases of rape have already been reported in 2013 as against 22 in the first five months last year.
“I was harassed by three men near a park. I ran towards the nearest PCR vehicle, but did not find any police officer for the next two kilometres. I was terrified,” says Joyita Bali of Sector 43.
Amid all this, Gurgaon continues to transform itself into an upcoming cosmopolitan city. It has not only become a migrant hub, but has also served as home to the country’s one of the largest expat population. The city’s crime rate has been a concern for expats as well.
“In Korea, we feel safe venturing out after sundown. But here, my family and I feel scared. That’s because the police here are not friendly and cooperative. People are scared of them and don’t trust them,” said Choi Eun Young, who has been residing in Gurgaon’s Essel Towers for the last two years.
Not relying on the under-staffed police force, more and more women are now taking their safety in their own hands.
Many women have taken recourse to martial arts as a form of self-defence. Women Empowerment Safety and Security, an organisation that trains women in martial arts, claims to have empowered over 1,000 women in the past four months. “We are a group of 14 women who conduct day-long workshops in martial arts. Our aim is to empower women so that they can fight back. The efforts have borne fruits as hundreds of women attend our workshops now. Various MNCs are also asking us to conduct workshops as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives,” said Veena Gupta, founder and president, WESS.
Crime against women: What the law says
Rape (Section 375): A ‘rape’ is committed when a man has sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent.
Kidnapping, abduction for specified purposes (Sec 363, 373): Any person managing a brothel and buying or obtaining possession of a female under the age of 18 years shall be presumed to have obtained possession of such female with the intent of using her for prostitution.
Homicide for dowry, dowry deaths (Sec 302, 304-B): When the death of a woman is caused by any burn or bodily injury or occurs for a reason other than normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that she was subjected to cruelty by her husband in connection with dowry, then such death shall be called ‘dowry death’.
Mental, physical torture (Sec 498-A) If the husband or a relative of the husband subjects a woman to cruelty shall be pun­ished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years.
Molestation (Sec 354) Whoever assaults or uses criminal force on any woman, intending to outrage or knowing it will outrage her modesty, shall be imprisoned for not less than 1 year.
Insulting modesty of woman (Section 509: Whoever, intending to insult the modesty of a woman, utters any word, makes any sound, or exhibits any object, intending such word shall be heard or object be seen, or intrudes upon the privacy of woman, shall be imprisoned for a term which may extend to one year.
*Source - National Crime Records Bureau