Intro: The regularity with which women are violated in the capital city is nauseating, to say the least; more so because there’s been no systemic change at any level – despite promises and assurances.
It’s been two years since Delhiites poured out on to the streets in protest against the horrific ‘Nirbhaya’ rape case last December. Between then and now, newspapers and TV channels have been ceaselessly reporting women-related crimes – rape, molestation, eve-teasing, acid attacks, and trafficking. There have been numerous campaigns, seminars, political statements and official commitments. But, the latest incidence of rape by a radio cab driver has clearly illustrated the shameful fact that NOTHING HAS CHANGED.
Earlier, the spotlight was on buses and other public transport vehicles. This time the focus is on taxis and their drivers. There is a flurry of ideas on how to make taxi travel safer. Next time it’ll be something else. Why does the government think of piecemeal measures – as and when a crime occurs. Why not take a wholesome view of various aspects of women safety, followed by time-bound action?
In February 2013, soon after the Nirbhaya case, the government announced a slew of measures to make Delhi safer for women. Here’s what was promised:
- Thorough verification of the crew of all public transport vehicles
- After a stipulated time frame, it was said, no public transport vehicle will be allowed to be driven or manned by any driver, conductor, helper or other crew member unless such a person has been verified and carries the verification certificate.
- Installation of GPS devices and CCTV cameras in public transport vehicles
- Appointments of lady police personnel
- n Establishing more 'all- women' police stations in the city
- Increasing the number of PCR vans (370 additional PCR vans were proposed)
- Revision of permit conditions for public transport vehicles
We need not file RTI petitions to find out whether these ‘plans’ were implemented or not. The constantly deteriorating security situation is proof enough that there has been no action on ground.
Now that a new government is at the helm of affairs at the Centre, and the Delhi State hopes to have a properly elected government soon, the women of India demand basic security as our right.
Punishment for rapists should be so harsh that no one dares. In India, rape has been defined so narrowly that it excludes forced oral sex, sodomy, or penetration by foreign objects. The government will have to include such crimes under the definition of rape.
Sex Offender Database
Create a national database of those who are either convicted or accused for sexual offences. Their names, photographs, addresses and crimes should be available to the public. It should be mandatory for any department to check this database before issuing licenses, permits, character certificates and other important documents.
Safe Public Transport
More state-run buses should ply on the roads after darkness. The drivers and conductors of these buses should be specially trained to be sensitive to women safety issues. Need to create more public transportation operated by women — women drivers and auxiliary bus staff. Photo IDs of bus, autorickshaw and taxi drivers should be displayed prominently in the vehicle. There should be clear-cut norms applicable on all transport service providers.
Safety apps must be installed in all mobile models, whether basic or high-end. In case of an emergency, one should be able to alert a chosen list of friends, relatives and the police at the tap of a button. This would be extremely helpful for kids and senior citizens also.
Workplaces can play a great part in preventing abuse of women. It is compulsory for BPOs to arrange transport for women in night shifts. This should also apply to other sectors, such as retail. Companies can also help by training their employees in the basics of self-defence.
More cops, smarter cops
The police force is usually short-staffed and over-worked. Hire more cops, especially women in the police force. Provide them with tech support to be able to communicate better with each other and to be more approachable. Every single road should be patrolled effectively at night.
Educating the youth
Gender sensitivity should be a part of school curriculum. Children should be taught to question gender stereotyping wherever they find it, whether in families or in the advertising and marketing of products.
Zero tolerance to public drinking
There should be a strict curb on this. Arrest or fine those who consume liquor in public places such as parks.
Abha Khanna Gupta (The writer is a social worker and senior journalist)