Opinion » Comment

Updated: May 9, 2013 01:03 IST

Fighting crimes against women the Parivartan way

K. K. Paul
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STAYING SAFE: As the factors for motivation and perpetration of rape
are different from those in conventional crimes, preventive measures
need a more innovative strategy. Photo: V.V. Krishnan
STAYING SAFE: As the factors for motivation and perpetration of rape are different from those in conventional crimes, preventive measures need a more innovative strategy. Photo: V.V. Krishnan

A unique initiative in Delhi shows how the role of the community along with effective policing is crucial to prevent incidents of rape

For the past four months, a repulsive four-letter word, “rape,” has dominated the national discourse like never before. Official statistics show a steep increase in rape cases in this period. This may indicate that they were not being reported earlier, or were not being registered. Fortunately, the enactment of recent amendments to the law and heightened awareness through extensive media coverage may have emboldened some victims to seek legal redress and social protection. But the provisions in the new law appear to focus on how to deal with the crime after it has been committed. Questions remain about the efficacy of the new law as a deterrent.

Is enough being done to prevent rape?

The findings

Not so long ago, social scientists and experts from other fields got together in the national capital to analyse the issue. Their conclusion was that the patriarchal system and its values were major factors contributing to the prevailing negative environment against women. Cases of rape and molestation were analysed and interviews conducted in localities in Delhi. Factors such as weakened community and neighbourhood ties, lack of privacy in slum clusters, migration, breakdown of the joint family system and dilution of parental authority, availability and exposure to pornography emerged.

Data on the accused in each case was analysed to develop the most likely profile of a potential rapist. Such micro-level analysis helped in developing a counter strategy. This involved identification of a target area, potential victims and potential perpetrators. Next, police personnel were given special training. The target area was then saturated with these women beat constables who had been specially selected and sensitised. They went on a door-to-door campaign, counselling and distributing pictorial leaflets and posters. Along with the local community, they organised street plays and pantomimes to talk about the sensitive issue of how women were treated. These were immensely popular. Schoolchildren in the neighbourhood also became sensitised to the issue .

The programme was supervised by the district Deputy Commissioner of Police, Sagar Preet Hooda. In addition, there was also an intensive and focused campaign to empower women through self-defence programmes. The efforts yielded a statistical as well as an actual decline in cases of rape and crimes against women, helped bring in an element of positivity in police-community relations and fostered a general atmosphere of goodwill for the police. The procedures were systematised, and rewarded with the certification ISO 9001:2000 from the Standardisation Testing and Quality Certification (STQC) Directorate, Ministry of IT, Government of India; several international accolades followed, including the prestigious Webber Seavey Award.

It is time for a second and improved edition of this unique police-community relation exercise called Parivartan.

Focusing on adolescents

While I am sure the police must be undertaking some of the necessary steps, we must also think of a long-term strategy to improve the general environment to make women feel psychologically secure. Besides an imaginative multimedia campaign, a multidisciplinary approach will also be essential.

Adolescents are among the most vulnerable and impressionable of demographic groups. In most homes today, they spend far more time in school and with their friends than with their parents. Hence the importance of a sensitive school environment, curriculum and teachers. The basics of Indian culture together with ethics of society and an inculcation of moral values are essential at this age. Education is not about securing admission to a prestigious college after standard 12; there is much more to do and the sooner we realise this, the better for our children.

Exposure, proliferation and the easy availability of pornographic material to vulnerable age groups can wreak havoc. While liberal minds may be hostile to the idea, a certain degree of control over the net and elsewhere is essential. Besides regulating access to pornography, there needs to be a rethink on suggestive advertisements on television. The basic idea is to ensure that women should not be depicted as a commodity. A few years ago, some initiatives had been taken by advertisers, but these days they appear to have thrown caution to the wind. Whatever such suggestive advertisements may mean, an adolescent mind is bound to be curious and think about them long after the TV show is over.

Undoubtedly, the police have to remain in the forefront as they are duty-bound to prevent crimes. At the same time, now that the law has been given more teeth, it is also essential that complementary efforts are made at various other levels to ensure a healthy and positive social environment for women. Stringent laws alone may not be a sufficient deterrent. Though the real impact on deterrence will be visible only when convictions begin to be handed out under the new law, we must realise that the motivation for and perpetration of rape are vastly different from conventional crimes and hence preventive measures would also need a different and a more innovative strategy.

(K.K. Paul is a former Commissioner of Police, Delhi.)

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I m citizen of Lucknow and when i here these crime daily happening in
our society, i m afraid of stepping out and feel insecure walking out
in midday also. there is hardly anyone to protect us and if there is
someone its only after crime, and victim is only blamed. that's really
pathetic condition.
i have a case in my neighbourhood where a son beat his mother in
front of whole society badly and is also a brother who beat his sister
and assault her. the pathetic situation is that he feel proud to do
that and walk in society as a respectable person. he is not afraid of
anyone not even his father, society nor police. when someone pity on
his family and try to stop him he calls his so called "gundas" and
threaten people.
i wish i could help his mother and sister but i can't as he tried to
threaten me.
i request the newspaper editor and all the readers to suggest me the
way to help him or someone who is powerful should come and help them
out. its hell to see them crying daily 4 help.

from:  vidhity sharma
Posted on: May 10, 2013 at 16:52 IST

I feel still we haven't touched the few more real reasons behind these issues. I have one question - why such incidents are more common in NCR region why not in other parts of country like Bihar or UP if reasons mentioned in aticle are the only factors? Why is not as common in other metro cities like calcutta, Bombay or Chennai?
It is the value and respect given to women in those areas mainly in Haryana and western UP. Parivartan is required here. All measure mentioned in this article is going to be of any help. They are very theoritical. I am very sure of this.

from:  Santosh
Posted on: May 9, 2013 at 17:08 IST

It is really great to touch all the corners with the view of
putting a stop over such heinous crime like rape, something that
compels the victim live the rest of the life below the line.
I heard some people saying the mere ban the pornography will never
change the mentality of the perpetrators and to a great extent i
advocate the view but we can not completely eradicate the
prospective effectiveness of such a move. And this is because we
know that human nature is typical impulsive. We are easily
compelled by a moment's thought and it sometimes result in inhuman
So i feel by making difficult access to the pornography we can
check fickle and amateur minds to come up with the same though or
action that can mire the life of the victim and the perpetrators as

Posted on: May 9, 2013 at 16:09 IST

The basic problem lies in the attitude of the people who makes our so
called biased society.Even some of the well educated men feel that women
only constitutes of her body which needs to be tamed to be considered a
male.Even the treatment meted out to the rape victims is a great sham
which again emanates from this belief.The men forgets the other duties
and responsibilities which the women delivers in the form of their
mothers and sisters.It should be realized that Women is more than the
pound of flesh with real feelings.

from:  kavita
Posted on: May 9, 2013 at 15:31 IST

It is truly heartening to hear about this initiative, and it would be even greater to see these kinds of programs implemented all around the country. However I am sure that strictly limiting access to pornography will not help the situation as watching pornography can be effective way of releasing sexual tension and thereby reducing the build up of sexual frustration. This claim has been supported by psychological studies which also warn that the type of pornography is important and watching violent pornography is a risk factor for men to commit rape. However over and above this I whole heartedly agree that ensuring that the predominant attitude towards women as commodities needs to change and that the way to do that is through school and also through advertising. Advertisers have a unique opportunity to challenge sterotypes in a subtle way and they should use it more rather than catering shamelessly to the sterotype as they all do now!

from:  lalithak
Posted on: May 9, 2013 at 09:47 IST

Mr. Paul's analysis of the Rape scene is sophisticated but bland. What is of most importance is a sociological attitude change-that women are the flip side of the society and are equal in all aspects to a PURUSHA the male.
that must begin at home where the emphasis on male children as the torch-bearer of the familial lineage and the girl child as the one to go away must be curbed.This requires a wholesale attitudinal change that has to be cultivated over a long period.
More immediate to the point, the police as the guardians of public peace must be fully trained to act strictly and quickly in all such cases and their political heads must be convinced of such equal treatment to women. Wringing of hands like what MS. Sheila Dixit the chief Minister did whenever such incidents are reported under the specious plea that the Police was not under her control and claiming that her own daughter was becoming afraid to live in Delhi is all very silly and serves no purpose.

Posted on: May 9, 2013 at 05:28 IST
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