Pune police trying to downplay increasing sex crimes?

Even as they continue to step up vigilance to arrest an alarming rise in sex crimes in the city, Pune Police have drawn flak from women`s groups for purportedly seeking to downplay the issue.

Pune: Even as they continue to step up vigilance to arrest an alarming rise in sex crimes in the city, Pune Police have drawn flak from women`s groups for purportedly seeking to downplay the issue.

What has agitated the women activists is a survey
released by police, which claims that as per their statistics
over 70 percent of the rape cases were filed belatedly by the
victims who first agreed to consensual sex act and later chose
to file complaints when the promise of marriage was not kept
by the accused men.

Addressing a meeting of women`s organisations convened
here last week to discuss security measures being implemented
by police to curb sex crimes, a senior police official
contended that a majority of rape cases registered were "fall
out of love affairs".

Complaints in such episodes were lodged after
considerable delay and this made the job of gathering evidence
difficult for the investigators, he argued.

This contention was later supported by DCP (Crime)
Anil Kumbhare citing statistics over the last couple of years.

The officials claimed that the statistics showed cases
of harassment filed by women had actually dropped in the city.

However, the police claim has not gone down well with
representatives of women who have raised doubts over the
conclusions drawn by the law enforcing machinery.

Questioning the findings, Kiran Moghe, who heads Pune
unit of All India Democratic Women`s Association, said the
police survey also mentioned that most of the cases that fell
under the category of consensual sex involved underage girls.

"If that is true, then it is a contradiction as sex
with minor should be considered as a rape because the consent
aspect in such cases is void," she said talking to a news agency.

Moghe rubbished the police statistics and said lack of
sensitivity on part of authorities while handling complaints
of sexual assault on women could have resulted in registration
of less number of cases during the period under reference.

Apart from an increased number of sex crimes, the city
has also witnessed a spurt in the cases of domestic violence,
she added. "A liberalised liquor policy in Maharashtra could
be a contributory factor to this malady."

Echoing her views, Neelam Gorhe, Shiv Sena MLC who has
been associated with a women`s cell, "Stree Adhar Kendra", for
the last three decades, said she could not agree with the
police version of nature of rape cases emanating from failed
love affairs and betrayals.

"One needs to ponder over as to why police are
releasing this kind of survey when the whole law and order
machinery in the city has come under a scanner following a
series of rapes reported in last one and a half months."

It could well be a ploy to divert the public`s
attention from their own failure to curb crime against women,
said Gorhe, who has demanded removal of Police Commissioner
Satyapal Singh.

Striking a conservative note, Vidya Bal, who is
associated with a magazine devoted to women`s issues, said
"It will be pertinent to ask whether the married woman who was
gang-raped at Hinjwadi (an IT hub on Pune`s outskirts) did the
right thing when she hailed a private taxi for a lift."

"We have to accept the fact that consumerism, easy
money and loose morals can spell trouble for unsuspecting
women when they go out to do jobs demanding gender parity. She
remains vulnerable in the eyes of the male hunter."

Responding to the demand voiced by various NGOs, the
Pune police have now decided to set up special cells for women
in as many as 20 police stations, which will be increased
further in phases to cover all parts of the burgeoning city.

These cells would be headed by women of the rank of
Sub-Inspector and would have four female Constables.

Another initiative is the establishment of a joint
security task force at Hinjewadi IT park area which has been a
witness to many sex crimes because of its remote location.

The task force comprises a quick response team drawn
from the security personnel of Hinjewadi Industries
Association (HIA) and Pune Police.