Although the Mumbai police stepped up their efforts to curb crimes against women, which included formation of an anti-harassment squad and a special helpline, 103, the number of cases registered went up in 2014.
Experts attribute the increase to awareness and growing independence among women.
Changing societal dynamics and uncertainties in the day-to-day life is leading to a rise in such incidents. “Whenever there is angst in society, women, children and senior citizens are targeted. Today’s society has social chaos and uncertainties are high, hence people are irritable, because of which they are expressing it in violent ways,” said Dr Harish Shetty, a psychologist. “Also, growing independence among today’s educated women is not acceptable to all men.”
According to Flavia Agnes, advocate and women’s right activist, the increase means more women are becoming aware of their rights. “Earlier, the police would turn away the complainant, and not register cases. More women are now coming forward to register cases.”
Former IPS officers said amendments to the law were also giving women more courage to approach the police. “Changes to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, that makes a policeman liable for prosecution if he fails to register a case of sexual offence or harassment has also changed things,” said YP Singh, former IPS-officer-turned lawyer. Section 166 (A) was introduced in the Act, which said policemen can be imprisoned from six months up to two years if they fail to register a crime against women.
“What the police need to do is stress on preventive action against past criminals, and make a watertight case that will show better results,” said Singh.
K Subramanyam, former DGP, Maharashtra, said in a majority of rape cases, the women know the accused. “The police need to be careful about crimes that take place in public places,” he said.
SS Virk, former Maharashtra DGP, said, “The presence of policemen on the street also plays an important role. There needs to be better police patrolling during odd and peak hours with the aim of preventing crimes.”
(Cases under some heads not included)