'Rise in incidents of harassment shameful'

Deputy Commissioner D S Vishwanath said the increase in cases of harassment of and violence against women and underage girls was shameful.

He spoke inaugurating an interactive session on Violence Against Women and Girl Child at the Chennayya Rangamandira on Monday. The seminar was jointly organised by the district administration and the Women and Child Welfare Department.

“India has the dubious distinction of being the fourth most dangerous country for women. Criminals who harass women have unfortunately forgotten that they too are a part of society and prove to be a black mark to any community,” rued the DC.

He added that in 10 per cent of harassment cases, the victims are below 14 years of age, an additional 16 per cent of the crime is inflicted of girls between 16 and 18 years of age, while 57 per cent of the cases have women between 18 and 30 years of age as victims. “The figures point very strongly at the debilitation in the mental state of the criminals,” said Vishwanath.

“The figures provided by the National Crime Record Bureau show sexual harassment to be the most common kind of crime. There were 22,172 cases of rape registered all over the country in 2010; within a year later, in 2011, the number rose to 24,506. But punishment has been given in only 22 per cent of the cases registered between 2008 and 2011,” he explained.

The DC said it was disgraceful and also dangerous that in many cases doctors are hand in glove with the guilty in incidents of female foeticide and infanticide. “That chances of Dalit women getting justice when they become victims of harassment are indecisive is unfortunate.”

Vishwanath said that a study by the Unesco shows that 57 per cent of men who are about 19 years of age and 55 per cent of women consider domestic violence natural. “The International Labour Organisation says that even in the current times, women get only 60 of the pay received by men. This too, in a way is a nature of harassment of women and needs to be ended,” said the DC, adding, “Both men and women should join hands towards this end, to bring about a change in social setup.”

Dr Prasanna Kumari of the Government Law College, who presented a paper on violence of women in current times, said if capital punishment for rapists is made legal, many would be hanged. “But this will only bring in more social imbalance. It is therefore absolutely necessary to bring in a social and educational revolution to fight harassment,” the professor advised.

Students and leaders of various organisations, who spoke on the occasion, accused the society and the political representatives of dereliction in giving justice to women who are victims of sexual and other natures of harassment. “Harassment is only being politicised. The police, on the other hand, refuse to register cases of harassment and even fail to take any legal action although FIRs are filed,” they complained, expressing dissatisfaction in the functioning of the legal and political system.

A student even demanded that rapists be given death sentence, ‘and allowed to go free’.
The Deputy Commissioner and the Additional Superintendent of Police H R Bhagavan Das both tried their best to calm the infuriated crowd.

Hundreds of students from various colleges and leaders of organisations participated in the interactive session.

Writer Manjukannika, Youth Services and Sports Department assistant director B Rudrappa, Women and Child Welfare Department deputy director Vijayalakshmi Shenoy, Department programme officer Nagesh Bilva, District Peace Committee president Shrikrishna, Zilla Panchayat deputy secretary Badanur and other officers were present.


Peoplespeak

Citizens from all over Kolar district, who attended the interactive session on Violence Against Women and Girl Child at the Chennayya Rangamandira on Monday expressed their views on the causes of the crime, reactions of society and legal bodies, and also the responsibilities of citizens towards reducing the crime.

Why did the police officers recently refuse to book a case although we approached them with enough witness and proof of an incident of sexual harassment of a woman at Ramasandra in the taluk? There is great delay in taking legal action during cases of harassment of Dalits in the district.
Gopinath, student

The maintenance conditions of girls' hostels should be immediately changes. Incidents of harassment of students staying at girls' hostels continue uninhibited, but remain unnoticed. Most girls' hostels have male nurses and supervisors. Girls cannot approach men to complain about certain issues.
S H Chowdappa, trainer

The staff of the Children's Helpline recently approached the police at the Vemagal station to book a case when a girl who had been raped turned pregnant. The police, however, refused to register a case, insisting that the girl or her parents book the case. The girl was forced to undergo abortion. There seems to be no end to such legal apathy.

Manjula, Children's Helpline secretary People who file cases and complaints of harassment, and those who need to provide witness for crimes either backtrack or turnaround at the time of questioning. This is a frequent cause for denial of justice to the victim. A change in the social mindset, therefore, is a prime necessity.
Narayanaswamy, advocate

The attempts of caste leaders to protect the headmaster of the Janatha High School at Kembodi in the taluk, who was accused of misbehaving with a student is shameful. The silence on the issue maintained by the Department for Public Instruction is only regrettable.
V Geetha, Janavadi Mahila Sanghatane


Failure to impose strict punishment on rape accused will only give leeway for an increase in such incidents. Let alone giving them 10 years of rigorous imprisonment or life term. The accused should either be given capital punishment or be treated legally in such a way that they never dare to act similarly ever again.
Hemavathi, student

The lack of proper proof in cases of harassment of women no doubt alleviates the intensity of the punishment imposed on the accused. But the question at hand is, why, often enough, do people in power sideline adequate proof of such crime and let the guilty go free.
Mamatha Reddy,
Mahila Santvana Kendra
 

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