"Sustained drive against eve-teasing has shown result"
Cases under TN Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act drop in 2006 Act has had an impact on college campuses, say officers
CHENNAI: The number of cases of harassment of women declined substantially in the city in 2006, compared with the previous two years (2004 and 2005), but there was a marginal rise in dowry deaths reported in the city, police statistics show.
This comes against a backdrop of reports that crime against women has been rising steadily and women's organisations clamouring for stricter implementation of laws to protect women.
The city police say they have done much in the last nine months to help bring down crimes against women, particularly younger women. Chennai police sources told the The Hindu on Thursday that the number of cases registered under the TN Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act had dropped below 100 in 2006. In 2005 the number was slightly more than 200.
The total number of offences against women registered in 2006 stood at around 450 in the city, while it was close to 600 in 2005. A sustained drive against eve-teasers at bus stops, schools, colleges and other public places had helped the police bring down the number of cases, the officials said. There have been complaints from women of being intimidated or teased by youths while driving their vehicles alone, but with the victims unwilling to lodge complaints, police could not do much, they said.
There have been cyber cases too. Recently, a young woman complained to the cyber wing police that unidentified people had furnished particulars about her in a website by giving false information. "I have been getting calls and SMS on my mobile phone from people asking about my hobbies and interests", she said in petition to the Commissioner. The case is under investigation, a senior officer said.
At a recent press conference, Commissioner of Chennai Police, Letika Saran, warned that the police would deal strictly with crime against women whenever it was brought to her notice.
Violators and offenders had been identified, warned or brought to book, by deploying police in plain clothes near educational institutions and in public transport systems, she noted. The Act has certainly had an impact on college campuses. Moreover, any action would spoil the career of male students if evidence proved their involvement. What is however worrying is that the number of dowry deaths had increased from 23 in 2004 to 32 cases in 2006. Similarly, cases of molestation too had risen from 15 in 2004 to 90 cases in 2006, a woman officer dealing with dowry related petitions said.
A glance at the conviction rate, however, suggests the need for better performance from the custodians of law. Officers said that during the last three years (2004-06) less than 10 people had been convicted of dowry harassment.
Though the police registered around 500 cases in the last three years, many were still under investigation or pending trial in courts. A coordinated approach from various agencies would pave the way for reduction in the number of pending cases, police officers concede.