Observing that the increasing instances of crimes against women were a “social problem” as well as a “policing problem”, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the government to create a “map” of areas where cases of molestation and sexual harassment had been reported.
“It is the common man who commits these crimes. We should know where these crimes are taking place. We should find out what is wrong with these people” observed the court of Acting Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul during a hearing on a PIL seeking court directions to check the increase in incidents of eve teasing.
The court said when the mapping was completed, sociologists could be employed to study the reasons behind such behaviour in order to develop strategies to curb the problem.
“Rape is nothing but an aggravated form of eve teasing. Give us a map of where these eve teasing cases are taking place,” the court said, noting that once the mapping was complete, “you can also employ NGOs to go to these areas and change the mindset of people there,” the court said.
The PIL, filed by Nandita Dhar through advocate Gaurav Bansal, had sought the court’s intervention after Delhi Police issued a press release in April 2013 indicating that the national capital had witnessed a “surge in crimes against women”, with rape cases recording 158 per cent rise whereas molestation and eve teasing incidents went up by 600 per cent and 783.67 per cent, respectively.
The court asked Additional Solicitor General Rajeeve Mehra why the government had not conducted “open house” meetings with the public so that people could come forward with their views on the issue.
“There are ordinary citizens committing these crimes, those people don’t come from outer space,” the court said.
The court observed that similar issues of sensitisation had come up in the PIL taken up by the court after the December 16 gangrape case, as well as in the PIL taken up following the death of Nido Taniam, a student from Arunachal Pradesh.
The court also said sensitisation of police was important and the government had filed affidavits in the gangrape PIL, stating that several measures were being taken.
“Are the male cops gender sensitised or are they still male chauvinists?” the court said, while asking police if they are “registering FIRs if a girl complains of eve-teasing”.
Further, the court observed that though the government had claimed to have started the 181 helpline for women, most people in the city were not aware of it.
“There are so many women in this court, and most of them seem to be unaware of it,” the court said. It asked the Central government to consider conducting workshops for sensitisation in schools and educational institutions, since “policing cannot help until we hit at the grassroots level”.
The court has now directed the Central government and Delhi government to “draw up a proper plan” to deal with the problems.
The two PILs will now be heard together by the court, as the issues of women’s safety and sensitisation are common to both.