Crime against women: Helplines draw a blank.
Taking a cues from the Delhi gangrape of December 16, 2012, a number of initiatives were started across the country to upgrade women's safety. Amritsar, too, joined the bandwagon and launched general helplines and women's helplines for women in distress. This was done to help women facing an emergency such as rape, molestation and eve-teasing.punjab Updated: Nov 25, 2013 00:39 IST
Taking a cues from the Delhi gangrape of December 16, 2012, a number of initiatives were started across the country to upgrade women's safety.
Amritsar, too, joined the bandwagon and launched general helplines and women's helplines for women in distress.
This was done to help women facing an emergency such as rape, molestation and eve-teasing.
Though these much-touted helplines were introduced with much fanfare a few months ago, they failed to achieve their objective.
This could be attributed to the lack of awareness among the general masses, particularly women, besides 'lackadaisical' attitude of the police authorities in promoting the scheme.
Besides this, shortage of women police personnel at helpline centres, which are mostly manned by men cops, has also cast a shadow on its effectiveness.
To cater to women in distress, the city has two helplines -- one is centralised (181) and another initiated by the Amritsar police (97811-01091).
Ironically, none of these helplines are popular with women in the city. This is evident from the fact that despite the rise in women-related crimes, not many women use the helplines to register cases against their assailants.
The shortage of women cops and resultant lack of sensitivity towards women's issues are apparently a few reasons why hapless victims don't approach the police for help.
Inspector Sushil Kumar, in charge of 181 helpline -- the facility which was started three months ago -- is manned by 10 police personnel, all men.
"No woman staff has been deployed at the helpline centre. On an average, six complaints are received every day. The complaints are not serious in nature," said Kumar.
He said complaints received through the helpline were forwarded to the police stations concerned for immediate redressal.
As the number of complaints received on the helpline is quite low, it shows that the facility is yet to gain popularity among women in the city.
Even though a total of 29 rapes have been reported in the city so far this year, the helpline has received only three complaints, all of which were resolved.
As far as eve-teasing is concerned, three cases were reported on the helpline this year and were later solved.
Nearly 52 cases of molestation were reported this year, but none was received through the helpline.
Sub-inspector Sharanjit Kaur -- who oversees the local women's helpline -- said they received nearly six cases on a daily basis. She, however, said shortage of staff had marred the facility.
"Two women constables also assist me at the centre but currently they are on leave. We also face shortage of vehicles and rely on police stations concerned to solve cases," she said.
Besides this, the helpline has shifted its base from one police station to another a number of times.
Advocate Harneet Singh Arora -- who deals in cases pertaining to women issues -- said a number of his clients had tried to approach the police through these helplines, but all in vain.
Stating that the helplines only existed on paper, he added, "Even if one calls on the helpline, she has to write an application and approach the police commissioner. The police shirk from registering FIRs as they will have to investigate the matter after that."
Arora charged the police for being 'insensitive' towards women-related issues. "The police should help women in distress," he added.
Meanwhile, ADCP (crime) Harjit Singh Brar, said, "The police is making efforts to ensure safety of women in the city. These helplines were started to ensure speedy redressal of women-related issues. All possible measures are being taken to spread awareness about these helplines. We ensure that women don't face harassment while lodging complaints."
Cases received through 181
Rape 29 (2013) 3
Eve Teasing 3 3
Molestation 52 Nil
How safe are women at workplaces in your city? What needs to be done to ensure safety of women at work?
"Be it a metro or Amritsar, women are not safe anywhere. They face harassment not only at workplaces but at public places too. However, women can work in a secure environment at work if their respective company managements frame strict laws and regulations. This will act as a deterrent. Baljinder Kaur (36), housewife
"In the modern world of today, woman is not given respect. She is treated more like an object. The scenario at workplaces is bad as women face harassment at all levels. Companies should frame strict rules to ensure their safety. Their problems should be redressed. Gurmeet Bawa (67), folk singer
"My friends often share experiences about their respective workplaces. Women face hardships at work and company managements have turned a blind eye to their problems. Very few organisations offer a good work culture. CCTV cameras should be installed at workplaces. Suman Sehgal (45), housewife
"I am a housewife now but I used to work as a teacher before. Women need to be active at their respective workplaces. The management is equally responsible and should ensure safety to its women staff. Women should raise their voice if they feel harassed. Kirandeep Kaur (43), housewife
"Women need to be bold and raise their voice. Some women are introvert but they should report harassment issues to their company management. The management should also take a serious note of complaints. The culprits should be handed over to the police. This will set an example. Gurbax Kaur, (57), college professor
"I appreciate HT for raising this issue. Very few work places offer a positive work culture for women. Their complaints are usually ignored by the company management. The management needs to adopt a serious and responsible approach. Both government and non-government cells should be constituted to keep a watchful eye on work cultures at different places. Dr Kirandeep Kaur (38), government doctor
"People need to change their mindset towards women. Companies need to frame strict rules and regulations to nip such incidents in the bud. Work places must ensure a good work culture for them. Any complaints or issues raised by women should never be ignored. If a woman feels that her complaint has been ignored, she should inform the police and media. Rajinder Kaur, retired government doctor
"The company management is to blame if a woman suffers harassment at the workplace. Even big brands fail to offer a safe work culture to women. However, if women employees unite and raise their voice against the management, things will change. If their complaints are ignored, they should approach the police. Charanjit Kaur (56), housewife