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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Enough talk. Make women safe Horrendous Rapes, Followed By Platitudes. But Nothing Really Changes

    Every time there is a rape in the city, we cringe at the reports in shame, wring our hands in frustration, and often cower in fear because our daughters, sisters and wives go out for work taking the very same routes stalked by depraved men who think nothing of violating, maiming and torturing helpless women. 

    There is the usual press conference by politicians, briefing on the investigation by the police and protest by women's groups. Sometimes the culprits are nabbed, sometimes they get away without a trace 
and a closure report is filed. Then there is another rape. Without any time to recover. And the whole process of quiet acceptance enacts itself all over again. 
    It's as if there's no getting away from this sordid, fearful reality of daily life in our metros. But does it have to be so? Can't we say enough is enough? Can't we put in place an action plan that protects 50% of the population, the women of our country, better? We can. 
    First, the law must prove a stronger deterrent to sexual crimes. Parliament on Tuesday demanded the death penalty for rapists. 
    However, women's rights grou
ps warn that this might actually increase the risk for the victims. Since both murder and rape will carry the same maximum punishment, rapists will be tempted to kill their victims in order to obliterate the eyewitness. POINT ACTION PLAN Harsher punishment There was demand in Parliament for capital punishment for rapists. Women's groups say this might actually harm women as rapists may kill their victim to snuff out evidence. So, why not chemical castration of the rapist which will make him incapable of sexual arousal Sensitise police Victims think a hundred times before going to the cops to complain about sexual harrassment. Cops have to be sensitized – there's nothing like 'eve-teasing', it is sexual crime. Raise number of women cops, especially at police stations Fast-track courtsSushilkumar Shinde has announced fast-tracking of this case. But we must set up special courts to deal with all rape cases and other sexual offences speedilyBetter patrolling There's urgent need to increase patrolling vans Use technology Use GPS in all public transport — buses, public or private, autos, cabs — so that they can be tracked. Plus there should be extensive use of CCTVs on roads and buses and metro Database of public transport personnel 
Today, your maid will be verified by police but not the driver who takes your kid to school. There must be comprehensive 
verification for drivers, conductors and cleaners 
Fourth gangrape accused, Vijay Sharma, an assistant gym instructor, arrested from Rajasthan; hunt on for two more 
Main accused Ram Singh in 5-day police remand 
Protesting JNU and DU students block traffic near Munirka crossing 
Parliament rocked; MPs demand capital punishment for the rapists 
Home minister Shinde says trial will be fasttracked with daily hearing 
Police commissioner says 4,000 more CCTV cameras will be installed 

Sunday night's dastardly crime has caught the nation's attention, but Mumbai, which once prided itself on being safe for women, is becoming dangerous too 

Nearly 5 horrific womenrelated crimes are reported in Mumbai daily. Many more go unreported 
Maharashtra has the lowest conviction rate for IPC crimes 8 (NATIONAL 
Needed: Quick justice, more women cops 
    So, it would be a better idea to forcibly make rapists undergo chemical castration. What does it do? With the help of antiandrogen drugs, this reduces sex drive, compulsive sexual fantasies, and the capacity for sexual arousal. It is a practice used in many countries. 
    However, any punishment can come only if there is conviction. Therefore, we also need special courts to deal with sexual crimes speedily. Quicker trials are likely to lead to higher conviction because if cases drag on indefinitely the complainant often loses her zeal to pursue it. 
    Next, the administration should ensure better patrolling of our city streets. A high police visibility is an immediate deterrent. In Delhi, for instance, the police have about 80,000 personnel but a huge chunk of it is involved in VIP duty or attached to special units, leaving just 22,000-25,000 active policemen on city streets. The pattern would be the same in other cities. 
    Similarly, with just 635 PCR (police control room) vans for a megacity the size of Delhi, there is an acute shortage of vehicles, especially on stretches in the fringe areas. There's need for more vehicles and spreading them out more evenly so that all parts of cities are patrolled. 
    Another thing that will help immensely is sensitizing the police force about sex crimes. At present there's a tendency to wink at 'eve-teasing'. The term 'eve-teasing' should be banished, for this is nothing 
but a sexual crime and brooks zero tolerance. Also, it is a double trauma for victims to narrate their complaint of sexual harassment or worse to male cops. So, there should be more women cops in our thanas. At present, it's only 7-8%. The immediate target should be 20%, and more won't hurt. 
    In India technology, too, can come into play. It doesn't take much to arm DTC and cluster buses, chartered and school buses, autorickshaws and taxis with GPS. And the recent CCTV footage of the bus in which the 23-year-old medical student was gangraped has brought into sharp focus the need for such cameras. 
    We have laid out this action plan in the hope that some of it will see the light of day. For, a country that cannot protect its women is only half a country. And India can do far better than that.

Moving scene of crime


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