CRIME AGAINST WOMEN in Panchkula rose by more than 78 per cent in the year 2019, according to the data accessed by Chandigarh Newsline. While the total number of cases under crime against women registered in 2018 were 162, the number rose to 289 in 2019.
The data shows a growth of 33 per cent was recorded in cases of rape and POCSO 4/6- penetrative assault of minors. Cases registered under IPC Section 354 of assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty grew by 128 per cent while cases under IPC Section 498 A- cruelty by husband or his relatives grew by 118 per cent.
While the police have time and again termed it to be a result of increased awareness among women due to police as well as administration’s efforts, renowned activists Pam Rajput and Jagmati Sangwan who are involved in the women’s movement reject the notion outright.
“That is only the partial truth. If they say now all women are coming forward, it is still not true. The crime is definitely on the rise,” Pam said.
Pam believes that a prevention plan at all levels needs to be chalked out by the administration to tackle the situation. “Prevention has to be at various levels: society, education system and parents. It has to be both short- and long-term. In long-term we have to change the mindset of men of our society. They have to be taught to respect girls. Both boys and girls have to be equally empowered. That is only possible when teachers teach gender sensitivity and responsiveness. We have to really work hard. We have to focus on early childhood care and intervention. We have to have a holistic approach to tackle the issue. We should not only have slogans but need to have zero tolerance for crime against women. Nobody thinks of engaging citizens of the city in this dialogue. Prevention is the only way out. State has to be strict about such incidences in every sense.”
Jagmati said, “The government is indulging in blaming the victim. Instead of chalking out measures for the safety of women, the government officials can be found focusing and commenting on the lifestyle of girls as the reason for the incidents. What happens is, the law and order machinery that is supposed to process and implement the rules gets a signal from these comments who in turn stop doing their job seriously. Criminals too find the situation soothing and feel emboldened in a way.”
Pam finds loopholes in the administrative system. “The migrant labour that comes in is not being registered. Cases of rape though come majorly from people known to the victims, a high number of crime cases against women also take place by these unknown, unregistered people for they think they can escape justice as nobody knows them. The system needs to do better,” she said.
Pam believes that the justice system too fails the victims somewhere. “It has been seven years since Nirbhaya gangrape happened. Laws were made and rules were stricken but it has still been seven years and the accused have not gotten what they deserve. Criminal justice system has to do better.” She said, “The fast-track courts have been a sham. The Nirbhaya case is mockery of the fast-track case system. There should be no provision of mercy in our system for cases of heinous crimes against women.”
Jagmati specifically talking about the rise in cases of POCSO and its victims points out that “women who are vulnerable to such situations, including young girls, who might find it difficult to have a voice are the ones that are targeted.”
On the trend of such cases coming from the economically weaker sections, Pam asserts that while the people from weaker backgrounds come forward, victims of better sections don’t. Though she agrees such cases of course happen more in the lower sections of society due to lack of recreational activities and their way of living life only craving to satisfy basic needs.
Both Jagmati and Pam also blame the increased access to obscene videos leading to an increase in such crimes in lower strata of society. Jagmati said, “We are the gangrape state of the country. When we spot groups of men standing together looking into phones and laughing, this is what they are doing. They are unable to handle these emotions. The patriarchial mindsets too play a major role. They get involved in it at such a great level that any girl they see next, becomes a victim. They start acting like predators.”
Talking about the women police stations made especially for women victims, Jagmati claims they are a complete failure. “There is only one police station in one whole district. Victims coming from poor background get dissuaded only due to the fact that it is far away. Moreover, because of the construction of women-specific police stations, the police refer cases to these stations. It acts as another form of harassment for the victim who are forced to register their complaints only at women police stations. Pure zile me ek such police station does not help. Mainstreaming must be done. One such cell of female police officers must be made at all police stations.”
“Gender sensitivity of this female police must be done as well. The police posted there themselves are narrow-minded. They feel no empathy towards the victims,” Jagmati added.
Talking of the rising number of cases registered under Section 498-A of cruelty by husband or relative, Jagmati points out that if Panchkula, which is the most literate city of Haryana, has this alarming increasing level, “imagine what the state of illiterate districts would be. The feeling of fear has been lost on these people. This is one of those crimes where a woman reports only when she has been left with no other option. The increasing level of cruelty between our males is inhumane.”
Pam terms the conviction rate worrying. “The police do not collect evidence the way it should and the accused walk free,” she said.
According to the data by NCRB, the majority of cases in Haryana under crimes against women out of total IPC crimes against women were registered under ‘cruelty by husband or his relatives’ (31.9%), followed by ‘assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty’ (27.6%), ‘kidnapping & abduction of women’ (22.5%) and ‘rape’ (10.3%). The crime rate per lakh women population is 58.8 in 2018 in comparison with 57.9 in 2017.
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