The City Police have claimed that they have successfully implemented the ‘Zero Tolerance Policing’ scheme. “The results show that the project is working and cases of harassment of women have come down,” said K.G. James, City Police Commissioner.
However, complaints by women of harassment continue. In a recent Facebook post, a lady warned women against taking the stairs at a mall in the city as women were groped and subjected to verbal harassment while using the stairway.
Police personnel claim that they have brought down the number of complaints through timely response to distress calls. Personnel, especially policewomen in plainclothes, were deployed in areas such as main junctions, parks, tourist spots, educational institutions, cinema halls, beaches and shopping complexes, they claimed.
The cases registered under section 509 of Indian Penal Code (for insulting the modesty of women through word, gesture or act) have come down. Three cases were registered in January, two in February, six in March and just one in April. Similarly, the number of cases registered under section 354 (for assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) was 17 in January, 7 for February, 21 in March and 12 in April.
“A dedicated team comprising one woman Circle Inspector, one woman sub-inspector, one sub-inspector, three Civil Police Officers and three women CPOs are working on handling complaints related to crime against women and children. The Women and Children in Distress Helpline number (9947000100) received 240 calls between June and December last year and 126 calls this year,” said Amoose Mammen, Assistant Commissioner of Police, District Crime Records Bureau.
Other steps initiated by the police under the ‘Zero Tolerance Policing’ include special patrols for women working during night hours at Infopark and enhanced patrolling for foreign and domestic tourists at Fort Kochi and other tourist spots.
The first patrol is being supervised by Assistant Commissioner, Thrikkakara and other is being coordinated by Assistant Commissioner, Mattanchery.
However, the corporation’s bid to make the city safe for women seems to have lost steam. A study by an NGO last year pointed out vulnerable and dangerous spots for women, but the corporation has failed to act on the report.
“One of the main complaints was lack of lighting. The area near KSRTC bus stand was one such spot and it is now properly lit up, thanks to the Salim Rajan overbridge. A new high mast light has been installed at South railway station using funds released by Hibi Eden, MLA. We have not implemented the proposal to set up waiting sheds for women travelling alone, as there is no space available and proper security system in place,” said B. Bhadra, Deputy Mayor.