Women’s apprehension of approaching police regarding instances of sexual harassment sets in play a vicious circle – as cases go unreported, harassers go unpunished. Nitai Mehta, trustee of Praja — a non-partisan organisation that works to engage citizens in the affairs of local government and has, since 2008, also been recording instances of crimes in they city, including molestation cases — speaks to HT about how police insensitivity can be tackled.
How can the police be sensitised to deal with sexual harassment cases?
The government needs to introduce special training programmes to sensitise the police force. A few years ago, there was a proposal to designate an accredited social worker in each police station, to look into issues concerning women and children. It’s high time the proposal is implemented.
What are the reasons for police insensitivity?
The police’s indifference and disinterest in dealing with sexual harassment cases stems from two factors. One, there is a deficit in the number of police personnel, which is why they don’t treat instances of sexual harassment very seriously. Also women from lower-economic strata are often not given a fair hearing.
What steps should be taken to prevent street sexual harassment?
There must be more police presence especially during occasions weekends and festivals. But this can only happen when there are enough police personnel. Presently, there is a 48% deficit in the police force. We need to sensitise citizens at various levels. And the process must start at a young age, ideally in high school or college.