Once again, Indian sentiments have been shaken by the Delhi Uber cab rape case. The shameful incident has brought back the chilling memories of the 2012 Delhi gang-rape case that forced the government to enact a stringent law for sexual assault crimes and a promise to offer a secure environment for the female community. But it seems the administration is far from keeping its promise.
The recent incident has highlighted loopholes in the operation of various radio cab services, considered as one of the most secured transport mediums for women, and the urgent need to put in place a strong regulatory system to keep a check on them.
In an interview with Biplob Ghosal of Zeenews.com, former top cop Kiran Bedi discusses the role needed to be played by the administration to ensure safety of women.
Biplob: Was Uber taxi booking service at fault? Do you agree with Government's advice to ban all web-based radio taxis across the country?
Bedi: Yes, Uber taxi booking service is at fault. It failed in conducting due diligence. While claiming to be a safe service, it never oversaw implementation of security measures. It provided a very useful and needed service without due safeguards. It can be sued for failure of a safe service, which has caused huge embarrassment to the country once again.
Biplob: Post 2012 Delhi gang-rape incident, the nation witnessed huge protests, the Parliament debated, and a strict law was put in place to deal with sexual assault cases. Do you think anything has changed on the ground post the ghastly incident?
Bedi: Yes, a lot has changed. Now, such crimes are widely reported and there is more indignation against such crimes. There has been improvement in police response and inter-state cooperation.
However, there are still a lot of failures and non-starters at several fronts. There is a lack of systems for prevention, regulation, coordination and implementation.
Biplob: Incidents like Uber rape case instill fear in people's minds regarding public transport. What in your view does the police and political leadership need to do to ensure safety and security of women?
Bedi: If this society and the country want to see women equally contribute to the overall growth of this country, women need a safe environment of mobility and this is most lacking in India today.
Uber cab service was providing the much needed convenience (proven now to be an unsafe service). We need quality, hassle free kind of service, but with due safeguards. In fact, we must ensure restoration of these services as soon as possible after proper regulation and licensing.
Banning of these has hit women's work and mobility hugely! Particularly those women who can afford and do not want to risk taking crowded buses for fear of being touched and groped around.
Biplob: Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi has assured that there is no place in the national capital where a woman will feel unsafe as his officials are continuously making efforts to ensure their security. Do you agree?
Bedi: Every city must have an 'effective' coordination system comprising of transport commissioner, police chief, legal secretary, municipal service, civil society experts, and others led by senior most in the administration.You can call such a body Traffic Managment Board. Key word here is effective coordinating body, not just one which holds meetings but doesn't act.
Biplob: Is social boycott of rape culprits a solution to prevent sexual crimes?
Bedi: If not hung, they ought to be punished for life, to die in jail.