What to talk about safety of women and minor girls at public places, when they do not feel safe in what is supposed to be their safe precincts - their home and their kin, who are suppose to protect them.
Such women, particularly minor girls, continue to be at receiving end of crimes perpetrated by their kin, is evident from the incident in which a minor (12-year-old) girl in Verka was raped for three years by none other but her father in June this year.
In another case, in September, another minor girl was raped by her stepfather for a year as a result of which she conceived. When the accused (the stepfather) came to know about it, he threatened to kill her and her mother. Later, the 11-year-old gave birth to a baby girl. Earlier in May, a six-year-old girl, living in a joint family setup, was raped by her uncle when her parents had gone to a market. The accused was later arrested and a rape case was registered against him on the complaint of the girl's parents.
Yet another case of a relative raping a minor girl was reported last year; where an issueless man, who had adopted his elder brother-in-law's daughter, was caught by his wife while attempting to rape the child. She later approached police and got a rape case registered against him.
In a case reported in February, the Amritsar police had booked a man - identified as Sandeep Mahajan of Hukam Singh Road - on charges of raping his wife and snatching her money and mobile phone. In the complaint lodged with the police, the woman alleged that she got married to the accused in August 2010, who abandoned her later.
She further alleged that she had approached a court that directed the accused to pay her Rs 12,000 per month as maintenance cost. Following the court's decision, she claimed, her husband offered to take her back home, whereupon she withdrew the case. The complainant had charged her husband with raping her on January 10 and snatching cash to the tune of Rs 35,000 and her mobile phone on January 17. After which he neither entertained her calls nor allowed her to enter his house, she claimed.
Judokas not safe too
Even as physically vulnerable women fall prey of goons, there are instances where females well-versed with the art of self-defence were raped, that too by the men whom they had trusted. In June last year, a budding judoka had charged her judo coach with raping her on the pretext of taking her to a judo camp organised at Sunder Nagar in Himachal Pradesh.
According to the victim, the accused picked her from her house in the walled city area on June 9, 2012 to take her to the judo camp. She alleged that the accused took her to his house on the pretext of taking his bag, where he raped her. She further alleged that the next day, the accused took her to Kangra in Himachal Pradesh, where he kept raping her. Later, he dropped her off at the camp.
The complainant alleged that she returned home on June 17 and apprised her parents of the incident. Later, a case was registered.
In another case, an attempt was made to assault an international-level woman judoka at a religious place, but she ended up using her skills to teach the goons a suitable lesson.
Women as accused in rape cases
While it's common to have men accused in instances of rape, some of the rape cases, however, registered this year had women accused too. This is so, as the accused in some cases were aided by women to target vulnerable women. In April, the Amritsar police booked three persons, including two women, in connection with the rape of a woman residing at Guru Nanakpura.
The accused were identified as Davinder Kaur, Maninder Singh, alias, Goldy and Dolly of the same area. The complainant had alleged that she was alone at home around 10am on March 30, when Davinder came to her and asked her to accompany her to a market.
The complainant had further alleged that Goldy and Dolly were already present there, and when they reached Dhapai railway crossing, they took her to an unknown location in an auto rickshaw. She alleged that both the women returned while Goldy raped her.
In June, the Amritsar police booked two women - identified as Deepika and Manjit Kaur - besides Sumeet Kumar (the main accused), in connection with the rape of a 15-year-old girl here. According to sources, Deepika, one of the accused in the case, used to work as a domestic help in the victim's paternal aunt's house and shared a good rapport with the family of Sumeet Kumar, whose father is a tantrik.
However, inspector general (IG) Ishwar Chander said police were dealing stringently with instances of rape in the city. In some of the cases, the court had even awarded rigourous imprisonment to the rape accused while other cases were being investigated, he added.
What psychologists say
According to psychologists, in majority of rape cases, the rapists are known to the victims. Moreover, often being from the victim's families, rapists are well aware of the victims' circumstances, lifestyles, schedules and habits and often end up taking undue advantage of these.
Minors are usually physically and emotionally weaker than grown up women, more dependent on elders and rarely able to fight back because of which they become easy target of the rapists, the psychologists say.
According to Dr Davinder Singh, associate professor at psychology department, Guru Nanak Dev University, "The male instinct is basically that of an animal."
"In more than 90% rape cases, the rapists are known to the victims. The irony is that the victims initially trust these men assuming being acquaintances they cannot harm them. This is particularly true to children, who are often instructed to avoid strangers and interact only with known persons. The assailants take undue advantage of this trust reposed by their victims in them," he said.
He appealed to the parents to ensure that their daughters were well-aware of the prevailing scenario and well-prepared to tackle potential assailants before they laid their hands on them. "Parents should equip their daughters with martial arts to ensure that they are able to tackle their assailants if situations arises so and make sure that girls carry aids such as pepper sprays in their handbags," he added.
Women's Safety: Women turn to pepper sprays, martial arts to protect themselves from rapists
Judo coach Karamjit Singh and his former student and present colleague at Guru Ram Das Centre Kamaljit Kaur are busy teaching judo to women, who are keen to equip themselves with the martial art to tackle the goons on their own.
With safety of women becoming a matter of grave concern, women have taken to learning martial arts in large numbers. This is evident from a sudden spurt in the number of women joining Guru Ram Das Centre for learning judo and karate.
Not just the centre, but many schools in the city have begun to impart judo-karate training to their students, particularly the girls.
"It's very important for the girls to be well-versed with the martial arts these days for self-defence," said Karamjit, adding that after the infamous Delhi gamgrape, the institute had witnessed a sudden spurt in the number of women aspiring to learn the martial arts. "Whereas initially judo was primarily considered a sport for students from poor families seeking jobs under sports quota in various government departments. However, of late it has evoked the interests of women seeking to protect themselves from assailants," said the judo coach.
Besides the martial arts, some of the women in the city are turning to pepper sprays as aids to protect themselves from assailants, especially at crowded places. A few others, meanwhile, avoid visiting congested areas and prefer taking a companion along.
"While I like to be well prepared with various aids to tackle anti-social elements in public places, I stay alert whenever I step out of the house and avoid going to crowded places," said Sehaj Gulati, a city resident.
VOX POPAs many as 34% women in Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab, feel strong punitive measures are required to check sexual harassment and another 24% want deployment of more policewomen, according to the HT-IDC survey on women safety. However, a minuscule number of respondents (less than 1%) favour the use of electronic eye - CCTV cameras - at public places. Do you agree? What immediate steps are needed to check sexual harassment in your city?
The CCTV cameras are must for security of the women. All places, whether secluded or public, must have cameras so that perpetrators are caught while resorting to any criminal activity.
Dr Sarvjit Brar, college principal
Self-defence trainings are must for women. The educational institutions must impart these trainings to the students. Same goes for different organsiations, where women are employed. However, the first step towards being safe should come from us.
Davinder Kaur Brar, director, Punjab Naatshala
I'm not in favour of more deployment of police and CCTV cameras to be installed everywhere. In the past, there have been incidents of sexual harassment despite cameras and police so being dependent on them is not the right solution. Self-defence training is the best solution.
Parneet Kahlon, student
CCTV cameras must be installed everywhere, which will discourage harassment of women. Cameras can also trace the culprits. Police must be more active at public places. They are generally seen chatting in groups rather than being alert.
Soni Sidhu, actor
No doubt that more policewomen should be deputed at sensitive places where eve-teasers and molesters roam around. Every important place should have CCTV camera installed so that culprits have fear that they cannot get away.
Dr Neelam Hans, nursing college principal
It's high time when women have to do something for their security. Police security and CCTV cameras do help in reducing crime, but we can't have police and cameras everywhere. I think there should be special training on self-defence for girls in the schools and colleges. Girls have to be strong enough to encounter those who want to spoil their dignity.
Jaspreet Kaur, bank employee