Women pour scorn on police's Abhaya helpline

 Abhaya — the all women armed police posse, aimed at instilling confidence among City’s womenfolk - does not seem to have cut much ice with their lot.

With the women themselves taking a rather condescending attitude to the City’s police pro-active intiative to put in place a 24/7 armed women team — comprising of sub-inspector, two police constables and driver to attend to their distress call, Abhaya seems to have run aground even before it could stake its credentials.

Poor response

Also, the women’s helpline — 1091 or 1092, started in the wake of the horrendous rape and death of a physiothrapy student in Delhi recently, has registered just one call a day.

While Joint Commissioner of Police B Dayanand justified the move of one Abhaya unit at every seven police divisions, tasked to assist women in post-trauma distress, the women have refused to buy the police’s public gesture.

Doubts galore

Disdainfully dismissing the very concept, Ramya Krishna, an employee at a multinational, quipped: Have you seen how emergency vehicles struggle to wade through the heavy, hindering traffic to reach hospitals carrying victims in critical condition?

How do you expect any of these seven vehicles to do so from one corner of the City  to another in time?

Further, distrustful of her own ilk, she further poured scorn on the initiative, stating “it’s not necessary that women police officers will have soft corner for women victims. To buttress her severe reservations, Ramya Krishna cited a personal instance, to which she was a witness to, about a female cop conservatively judging the victim for her dress and fashion sense.

“She openly abused and humiliated the victim, who was in shock after some hooligans teased her.”

The general refrain among women was that unless sexual offenders have psychological fear of police presence,  squads with fancy names and few personnel was not sufficient to ensure protection.

Need of the hour

Researcher and Educator on gender issues Dr Rita Noronha, in her take on the topic, suggested that instead of standalone squads, the department could sensitise the workforce to handle mattes involving women.

However, the police, undeterred by the lukewarm response and rather negative feedback, have promised to conduct monthly review meetings to analyse the pros and cons of the squad and make suitable amends.

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