Anubha Shukla/OneWorld South Asia
The Delhi Police, a force blamed for its insensitivity towards women, are showing signs of change.
After a month since the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in Delhi, the city’s police have come up with a slew of measures to improve security situation for its women citizens.
For a start, the police have identified 255 routes taken by families and women returning from entertainment hubs at night and have deployed PCR vans, motorcycle patrols, Emergency Response Vehicles along these routes. Sudhir Yadav, Special Commissioner of Police, has been appointed as nodal officer to monitor complaints by women and interact with NGOs every month.
The Delhi Police have also identified 1,600 dark stretches across the city and concerned civic authorities have been informed to take adequate steps. This follows a similar step taken by the city government launching a helpline for women which was inaugurated amid much fanfare – only to fail when it was put to use.
The police have instructed police station heads, or Station House Officers (SHO), not to make any woman complainant approaching them to file a complaint run around. The step underlines the oft-heard complaint that police shirk their responsibility on the count that an offence outside their area of jurisdiction should be reported to the police station covering that area.
The SHOs have been told to show zero-tolerance to eve-teasing. The police have also intensified campaign to remove black films on vehicles. More police women are being recruited.
The measure, however, does not take into account the insensitivity of police officers towards women harassed on the streets of Delhi, as women rights activists have never tired of pointing out.
Six additional phone lines have been dedicated to the police-run Women and Child Helpline. A database of criminals arrested in rape cases and offences against women will be made public, the police have said. Progress on this will be keenly awaited as many lawmakers too, face charges of sexual assault.
In the meanwhile, reports have also come in to the effect that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is now planning to make stalking a criminal offence – it can now be included into the ambit of the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 2012 pending consideration before Parliament. The new law will also acknowledge phone calls or e-mail as evidence, a senior official from MHA said.
The Delhi Police, however, continue to face flak for its attitude towards women. Just a week ago the city police put up banners outside schools and colleges advising girls and women to follow certain guidelines to ensure their safety. For instance, the banners advised women students to go home directly after school or college. The police have drawn criticism from the people who are questioning the logic behind issuing dos and don’ts for women instead of taking the responsibility for their complete safety.