From hosting Asia's first women's police station...
For Tamil Nadu, which pioneered in setting up the first all-women police station in entire Asia under J Jayalalitha’s first tenure as Chief Minister in early 1990s to correct gender-bias in investigation and swiftly respond with a healing touch to sexual crimes against women, a slew of recent outrageous attacks on women has come as a shocker.
Vinodhini, a 23-year-old B.Tech graduate from Karaikal in neighbouring Puducherry and working in Chennai, barely a few weeks back lost her vision in both eyes and suffered 40 per cent grievous burns, after a construction worker, whose romantic overtures she had shrugged off, threw acid on her face at Karaikal when she had gone home.
Displaying extraordinary courage in the face of such adversity, she was shifted to the Burns Ward of Kilpauk Medical College in Chennai where she is still battling for her life though out of danger by now. Her assailant Suresh, was “simply obsessed with her”, said Police investigating the case. He decided to “take revenge on her” after the girl’s family had filed a police complaint against Suresh.
The latest murderous attack on Punitha, a 13-year-old hapless 7th Class girl returning from school in a village in Tuticorin district, was equally brutal. She bravely resisted a “rape bid” by a local goon, whose name was given by Police as Subbiah, but only to be strangulated to death by him using her ‘dupatta’.
And in quick succession, at least three other cases of attempts to violently outrage the modesty of young, teenage girls have been reported, one from Nagapattinam district and two others of Dalit girls in Cuddalore district. As political pressure mounted for sterner action against sexual offenders, in the wake of the Delhi rape tragedy, Punitha’s pursuer Subbiah was arrested under the Goonda Act, which entails straight detention for one year.
One crucial facet is that more cases of crimes against women get to be reported openly now than in the past, which itself is a sign of women’s empowerment to boldly take on such anti-social elements.
* Feb 4, 2012: A woman came out of a night club at Park Street, a posh area of Kolkata city, and was waiting for a cab. A man whom she had met in the pub offered a lift. She accepted it and the car left the parking lot only to stop a little ahead where four-five men, allegedly friends of the driver, pushed into the vehicle and one of them raped the woman at gunpoint.
* July 19, 2012: A woman gets abducted by an autorickshaw driver and his accomplices in a posh area in South Kolkata. She was then raped.
* Oct 31, 2012: Police arrested a footballer of East Bengal, a premier division national
football club, Jagpreet Singh and his domestic help Ravi Singh, allegedly for gang-raping a minor at an apartment in the north Kolkata suburb of Dum Dum.
The list is endless. Countless incidents keep streaming in from across West Bengal. Kolkata, until a couple of years back, considered to be a safe haven for women has now turned into a nightmare for them. According to National Crime Records Bureau, West Bengal, in 2011 recorded the second highest number of rapes after Madhya Pradesh. As many as 2,363 cases were recorded in 2011 and the number of victims was 1,671.
Kolkata may be well behind the country’s rape capital Delhi and its staggering 453 incidents of rape, but the ‘City of joy’ recorded a whopping 1,161 incidents of crimes against women. The situation at ground level is more alarming.