Help-desks at railway stations, bus stands, shopping localities
In a bid to prevent crime against women in public places, the police will start help-desks at railway stations, bus stands, and shopping localities in the city.
The police will designate at least 100 auto-rickshaws, operated by “gender sensitised” persons with a clean police record, as “women- friendly” vehicles. Such autorickshaws will sport a mildly different colour scheme.
The police will conduct a security audit of public places, including beaches, public toilets, and eateries, to check whether they are safe for women at all hours. They also propose to create “collectives” of women commuters on the same routes (including those travelling by bus, train, and auto-rickshaws) to help them articulate their grievances jointly.
(Last year till September, 169 cases of molestation of women in public places were reported in the city.)
City Police Commissioner P. Vijayan chaired a conference here on Tuesday in which representatives of women’s groups told him about the various kinds of “low and medium level” threats they faced from drunks, purse snatchers, ticketless travellers, vendors of pornographic books and DVDs, nuisance makers, and hardened criminals in public.
Many women felt most vulnerable while travelling on late-night trains and buses, which run almost empty. On such occasions, they were forced to travel alone on cabs or autorickshaws driven by “socially maladjusted” persons with a dubious background. Only those with a clean police record would be allowed to work as auto and bus drivers. Plainclothes-squads will regularly interact with women commuters and record their grievances. They will also travel incognito on buses and trains to apprehend those who pose a threat to women commuters.
The police will also work in tandem with municipal authorities to create more “women-friendly enclaves,” such as women-only resting rooms and toilets, in public places.
A senior official says that in most cases where women are victims of crime, there is a tendency to moralise on their dress code and behaviour. However, many seem to forget that the free and safe access to public places is the right of every citizen, irrespective of their gender.