Stronger laws with better enforcement and a police force that is more sensitive towards crimes against women and strives for a higher detection rate is what is needed to make Mumbai safer for women, according to former top cops.
“Police need to handle cases of crimes against women as a priority to send a strong message,” said former commissioner of police, Mumbai, D Sivanandhan, adding that the current police commissioner should make the force more sensitive to the problem. While changing laws is a long process, Sivanandhan said wom-en should carry stun guns and pepper sprays for self defence.
Former IPS officer and advocate YP Singh said though there can be never a zero-crime situation, strong detection was the need of the hour in cases of crime against women. In many cases a non-cognisable (NC) offence is registered with the police and they don’t bother to follow up.
While the police claim that special squads patrol malls, theatres, railway stations and other public places to curb cases of sexual harassment, experts say that not enough is being done.
Recently, the home ministry had asked all units under the Maharashtra police, including Mumbai, to establish separate squads in their jurisdiction to deal with the issue. With crimes against women steadily rising and the manpower shortage in the police force getting more acute — an average of 321 police personnel in Mumbai for every one lakh — it is getting difficult to curb crimes, experts opine.
Sadanand Date, joint commissioner of police (law and order) told HT that all the police stations and various other detection branches have established squads to curb sexual harassment. “Zonal deputy commissioners of police (DCP) have been asked to monitor the working of these squads,” said Date.
The social service branch also regularly interacts with students to sensitise them about dangers of sexual harassment. This not only educates them, but also acts as a deterrent as they are aware that it is a punishable offence.
But a DCP admitted that curbing the menace entirely is tough in a big city like Mumbai.