Telangana

‘Women safety should be the State’s responsibility’

Students and ABVP activists shouting slogans at a massive protest rally held in Hyderabad on Monday to demand stringent action against the accused in the rape and murder of the 27-year-old veterinarian in Shamshabad last Wednesday.

Students and ABVP activists shouting slogans at a massive protest rally held in Hyderabad on Monday to demand stringent action against the accused in the rape and murder of the 27-year-old veterinarian in Shamshabad last Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: K.V.S. Giri

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Clamour for strict and effective implementation of existing laws grows shriller

Nothing seems to have changed for women who venture out for education, work, entertainment or simply to travel. Public spaces are turning extremely unsafe for women of all ages with predators lurking everywhere.

People seething over the rape and murder of the 27-year-old vet in Shamshabad last week have a common thought — had the State enforced proactive safety measures, created awareness about helpline numbers and made the service effective and efficient, apart from making women safety in public spaces a priority for the police rather than deploying them for VIP bandobust, the young doctor would not have met such a fate.

“The State and its machinery has clearly transferred to women the responsibility to protect themselves and how they should take precautions or what they should do in an emergency situation. The focus is not much on perpetrators of the assault or those who indulge in objectionable behaviour either in public places or at the workplace, says Vanaja, a freelance journalist.

Incidentally, on November 28, as news of the gruesome rape and murder of the veterinary doctor was trickling in, women’s movement organisations’ Joint Action Committee held a press conference, and said that though the Telangana government appointed Poonam Malakondaiah Committee to understand the issues of women related to their safety in public spaces, domestic violence, sexual harassment at workplace, health, education and livelihood issues, no action plan was enforced.

The women organisations put forth their demands and, more importantly, wanted a three-digit helpline like 108 to respond to women in distress. No awareness nor publicity was generated about the helpline to instil confidence in women, says Progressive Organisation for Women leader Sandhya.

“Our demand is to enforce the existing Acts comprehensively. Basic transport facilities are not available for girls going to schools located far away. That was how four girls were tracked, raped and killed by one Srinivas Reddy in Hajipur, 100 km from Hyderabad in Yadadri district. Yet, the government responded as if the incidents took place because of a psycho on the loose Should the police not patrol and take stern action against repeat offenders,” she says.

U. Vindhya of the School of Gender Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, says there is clamour for capital punishment in the vet’s case but what is urgently required is strict and effective implementation of existing laws to prevent and deter crime. After the Nirbhaya incident in Delhi in 2012, law was amended to bring zero FIR provision to enable immediate registration of a case, irrespective of the jurisdiction, in an emergency. But police officers themselves were not aware of the zero FIR provision.

“There are a whole lot of issues like streetlights, public transport system, last mile connectivity, responsive police and swift action soon after a woman makes a distress call. There is failure on the part of the State in taking all such measures,” she says.

The TISS faculty member shares incidents of eve-teasing and harassment of their students continuing unabated despite complaints being lodged in police stations in Rajendranagar. The SHE Teams tend to advise girls to be more responsible for their safety and not to venture out in the night, she says. Top police officials, however, admit cops are wrong to make such remarks.

Ms. Vindhya says unless providing safety to women in public spaces becomes part of national conscience and agenda, such crimes will not come down. This can be reinforced through implementation of existing Acts by the State and responsive and swift action by the police, she suggests.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 11:41:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/women-safety-should-be-the-states-responsibility/article30142713.ece

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