City safe for women, assert top cops

Last Updated 26 December 2010, 02:41 IST

Bangalore is becoming increasingly unsafe for women, considering the various crimes committed against them. Over the last two years, there has been a perceptible increase in the number of murders for dowry and other reasons, attempts to commit suicide due to dowry harassment, abetment to suicide, cruelties committed by husbands and in-laws, molestation, and abductions.

Yet, the police aren’t ready to accept that such a trend exists. They have a different take on the statistics. “It is not correct to say women are increasingly being subjected to crimes. Drawing conclusion from statistics depends on our perception. In fact, the number of crimes against women has come down,” claims City Police Commissioner, Shankar Bidari.

“There were five police divisions in 2008, but the number became seven in 2010. Hence, we can’t apply the statistics of 2008 to 2010 to draw conclusions,” he contends.
The police see crimes against women as a social problem. Such incidents take place across different strata of society. For instance, major crimes committed against women working in IT/BT sectors include robberies and physical abuse. They are easily vulnerable to such crimes as they fail to understand the local language and geography. These women are targeted mainly for laptops, mobile phones, jewellery and cash, points out Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Alok Kumar.

Women from the upper strata of society might be less vulnerable due to their legal awareness, but not those from the middle and lower sections. “Many crimes against women in lower strata of society go unreported for two reasons. First, they are not aware of the legal means to seek justice and the second, they are afraid of consequences. Hence, they tolerate traumatic experiences and rarely lodge complaints,” discloses Alok Kumar.

It is primarily in cases of rape and attempt to rape that the culprits go scot-free. A majority of the victims, irrespective of their social strata, rarely lodge complaints fearing social stigma. In case of migrants, they leave the City and move to their native places and begin a new career. The police can prevent crimes if victims share information about the culprits without fear, stress the top cops.

Misuse of provisions
Ironically, while crimes against women from the lower strata are on the rise, the educated and elite class women are seen increasingly misusing legal provisions to settle scores with their in-laws. In most of the dowry-related crimes, women are both victims as well as suspects. A few women have lodged false complaints against their spouses and in-laws.

The police are forced to register cases though they know the truth is something else. Police officers confirm that there are many cases where legal provisions are misused by the so-called “women victims” to blackmail or threaten their in-laws and husbands.  
“You can’t call a person a culprit as soon as a complaint is filed in such cases. We need to investigate such cases thoroughly. The police are very much aware of such false complaints and misuse of provisions,” says Bidari.

The problem then, needs to be viewed from a social perspective. There are many social causes for crimes against women. Law alone can’t put an end them. “We will not be able to see any change unless there is social awakening,” feels Alok Kumar.

While rape and sexual abuse are commonly noticed among educated class, crimes related to extra-marital affairs are quite common among lower rung of the society.
Many of the lower rung women are vulnerable to extra-marital affair due to poor economic status. They indulge in such activities due to unavoidable circumstances. Over the last few years, cause for most murders among slum dwellers and downtrodden has been the extra-marital affair. These crimes are well planned and executed which are beyond the control of the police. Things will not improve unless there is a change in economic status and and awareness is created, say sources in the police department.
An interesting feature after live band and dance bar were banned in the City is those who were involved in these activities were forced to take up prostitution. Many of them are found to be involved in criminal activities to make fast bucks, reveal the police.

(Published 25 December 2010, 19:18 IST)

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