The recent incident wherein a 25-year-old Danish woman, a research scholar, was allegedly molested by an auto-rickshaw driver while crossing a bridge near the Amritsar railway station, has brought the burgeoning issue of crime against women to the fore. The incident is not a lone of its kind.
Even though the Delhi gangrape incident shook the nation's psyche last year, incidents of crime against women have registered a dramatic increase.
Foreign tourists as well as local residents -- irrespective of their age or stature -- continue to be soft targets for men on the prowl.
A perceptible rise in cases of rape, molestation, sexual harassment has been witnessed in the city.
Passing snide remarks, eve teasing, making derogatory comments to women at marketplaces, shopping complexes, bus stand, railway station etc has been commonly reported.
In 2011, a Chinese woman was allegedly abducted from Amritsar. She was found unconscious on the outskirts of the city the following day.
In another incident, a Delhi-based woman allegedly charged a Government Railway Police (GRP), constable of assaulting her on the pretext of arranging an accommodation for her and her four children. Even though the cop was arrested, the woman retracted from her statement the next day.
The data of last three years reveals that women, both local and tourists, did not feel secure in the city.
Compared to 2011 and 2012, cases of rape registered a remarkable increase in 2013.
As many as 29 cases of rape were reported in the city till November 21 this year. In 2012, the figure stood at 27, while not more than 20 rape cases were reported in 2011.
As many as 52 cases of molestation were reported till November 21 this year.
In 2012, nearly 14 cases of molestation were reported, while only seven cases came to the fore in 2011.
Three cases of eve teasing have been reported this year, while none were reported in 2012 and only one in 2011.
Stating that a number of cases, including those of rape and molestation, were sometimes cancelled for various reasons, ADCP (crime) Harjit Singh Brar, told Hindustan Times on Friday, "Special arrangements have been made in the city for the security of women."
"Besides a 24-hour helpline, special ladies' force has been deployed to check harassment of women in public places. Besides this, a dedicated women police station has been set up to help women in trouble," Brar added.
ADCP headquarters Kuljit Singh said the beat system of policing had been instituted to enhance the security of residents.
"The police control room has been mobilised to respond to emergencies and issues affecting women. Besides this, a team has been constituted to look into incidents of snatching and other crimes, targeting mainly women. A special helpline has also been set up to deal with rape cases," said Singh.
Discussing the trend, sociologist Suninder Tung, said, "The rise in incidents of rape and molestation reflects how children are brought up in society. Such acts are shameful and underline the wrong mind."
Attempt to rape:
Is your city safe? What steps are needed to make it safer?
The city is not safe for women, both local and foreign tourists. Cases of rape and eve teasing have increased. The police needs to act and more women police personnel need to be deployed. This will act as a deterrent. Ravinder Kaur (24), Hotel Employee
"Incidents of rape, eve teasing and molestation have increased. Men, including youngsters, openly pass derogatory comments to women in public. Women tourists are also not spared. The police needs to act tough. Nikita Kapoor (19), Student
"Women fear to venture out. Parents remain worried for their daughters until they return from school and college. The city does not provide safety to women. Women also need to come forward and report such incidents. Laxmi Rattan (29), Student
"Be it any nook and corner of the city, towns or villages, women are not safe anywhere. Is this a sign of a modern and civilized society? Women should carry pepper sprays to defend themselves. The police also need to maintain extra vigil at public places. Rupsy Mishra (35), Make-up artist
"The rise in rape and molestation cases has marred the city's image of a tourist destination. Women tourists avoid visiting the city. Women need to report such incidents to the police as these will act as a deterrent. It is a good sign to see women deployed at public places. Neelu Malik Gauri (38), dean, educational academy
"Cases of eve teasing and sexual harassment have registered a remarkable increase. Women being targeted at public places is shocking. The police need to be more vigilant. The police commissioner should ensure an active role in curbing the menace. The culprits should be strictly punished."
Babita Rani (41), Class IV employee
"The molestation of a Danish woman outside the railway station is a wake-up call. Even though newspapers regularly report such incidents, the situation has become worse.Strict action needs to be taken against the culprits.
Kawar Talwar (25), college teacher
"Be it metros or small towns, women are unsafe everywhere. Even people watch as mute spectators when a woman is targeted in a public place. Men indulging in eve teasing have to be punished. The police should be deployed at public places to keep a watchful eye on miscreants. They should encourage women to lodge complaints.
Harshita Jain (18), student