Public places turn danger zones for women
Even as incidents of sexual harassment continue to rise and women continue to be on the edge, the men in khakhi seem to be ignorant of their plight. Intimidated by the social stigma attached to sexual harassment, women continue to confide in friends and family. The thought of approaching the police instills fear in their mind.punjab Updated: Nov 26, 2013 23:33 IST
Even as incidents of sexual harassment continue to rise and women continue to be on the edge, the men in khakhi seem to be ignorant of their plight.
Intimidated by the social stigma attached to sexual harassment, women continue to confide in friends and family. The thought of approaching the police instills fear in their mind.
In a stark contrast to the police claims of upgrading the security apparatus in the city, incidents of eve-teasing, snatching, molestation and rape have refused to die down.
Going by the crime statistics, 29 cases of rape, 52 of molestation and three of eve-teasing have been registered till now, this year.
The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that a woman was publicly assaulted in the parking lot of a city-based mall on November 24.
With minimal to dismal presence of police personnel on roads, their claims to provide adequate security to women stand exposed.Hindustan Times spoke to a cross-section of women and asked them to identify five places that they consider unsafe. These may not be increasingly in the right order.
Regarded one of the posh avenues in the city, Ranjit Avenue, is the most sought after residential and commercial areas. On the contrary, it continues to be one of the most dangerous places due to the absence of police personnel. Women fear venturing out alone. Incidents of purse and chain snatchings have become the order of the day with miscreants targeting victims in broad daylight. The entire Civil Lines area has become synonymous with snatching.
The posh area houses renowned showrooms, market places and eating joints, besides a few educational institutions, including a women's college. The very mention of Lawrence Road, one of the most famous places in Amritsar, brings images of girls in their best attires sashaying down the road or zipping past on fancy two-wheelers and cars, to the mind. However, incidents of eve teasing and snatchings have risen dramatically, making it an unsafe area.
One of the most frequented market places in town, Putlighar has become unsafe for women. Due to the availability of various goods at economical rates, the market is thronged by shoppers, particularly women. The market is chock-a-block with shoppers throughout the day. However, absence of security arrangements for women has posed a serious question mark on their safety.
The locality is synonymous with many incidents of crime, including rape, murder, snatching, theft, narcotics and others. An ASI was shot dead in the area when trying to protect his daughter from an Akali leader last year. Police presence is almost minimal.
Despite one of the busiest places in the city with foreign and domestic tourists arriving round the clock, security arrangements are inadequate. A couple of months ago, a Danish researcher was molested outside the railway station. In another incident, a GRP cop at the railway station was charged with raping a tourist from Delhi.
As per the HT-IDC survey on women safety, only 9% women, who suffered sexual harassment of some kind in Chandigarh, reported it to police. In SAS Nagar also, 20% complained to police. Tell us why women prefer to inform friends and family, and not police. What should be done to ensure that women complain to police to bring offenders to justice?
I have heard about many incidents when women approached the police for help but the latter did not redress their grievances. Cops blame women for the harassment caused to them. This discourages women to approach the police. If women raise their voice in unison, the police will be on their toes. Anuksha Ravishankar (53), author
Women don't approach the police due to the `lack of trust' factor. Women confide in friends and family rather than the police. They suffer in silence due to social stigma. Women fear that the police may not treat them respectfully. They perceive that the police look down upon women who approach them for help. Dr Sukhbir Kaur Mahal (55), principal, Khalsa College for Women
"Our society's mindset is whimsical and backward. If a woman faces harassment, society portrays it in a negative way. The thought of approaching the police gives jitters to women. They feel media will get involved too. Women need to act strong and believe in themselves. Mehak Handa (22), housewife
"Women confide in friends and family and not the police. They feel the cops will target them. They choose to keep mum and not discuss their problems. But they need to be bold and speak out for themselves. Why be scared when we are right? Society should support them. Savita Kukreja (23), hotel reservations executive
"Not all police officials ignore complaints made by women. Women think the police will not help them. If she feels that the police are not helping her, she should approach the media. Women need to be brave and not act as cowards. Jaspinder Cheema (24), actor
"Reaction time is too slow. Women feel the police don't cooperate and instead harass them. They keep away from approaching the police. The police needs to win the confidence of people and be sensitive towards women complaints.
Meena Malhotra (21), food and beverage associate
Stating that the police were doing their best to make the city secure for women, IG Chander Shekhar claimed that they had initiated measures to strengthen security. These include deployment of 150 women cops, beat system of policing and helplines. "Security of women in the city is of prime importance and we are committed to the cause," he said.