ByÂ Tehelka Bureau
Following TEHELKAâs cover story exposing the insensitive and misogynistic attitude of policemen in Delhi/NCR towards rape victims and towards the phenomenon of rape, there was outrage among readers and in opinions across the country. A range of voices â civil society activists to politicians, film stars to former police officers, and many, many ordinary people â expressed their anger and deep anguish. âSuch policemen should be sackedâ; âHow can women get justice if the police think this way?â; âHow safe are women in Delhi?â: questions without satisfactory answers, asked in frustration and an emotional welter, flooded social media sites from Twitter to Facebook. This was not just a hotly-discussed scoop â it was a mirror to our cruel world.
Women politicians like the CPI(M)’s Brinda Karat and the Congressâ Renuka Chowdhury were among the first to respond, both of them labeling as âcriminalâ the policeâs instinctive disparaging of the rape victim. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit spoke of her anxiety about the safety of women in the city and promised to raise the matter with the police commissioner. In comparison, the home ministers of neighbouring Haryana and Uttar Pradesh â states that house the three NCR cities of Gurgaon, Faridabad and Noida â were conspicuously silent. Every day, thousands of women travel between these cities and Delhi. Often, they are completely dependent on local police forces for their protection â forces that are not just unsympathetic but, as TEHELKA established, downright antipathetic.
Perhaps it is this attitude that stops women from even approaching a person in police uniform for help, terrified by the knowledge that it may result in a rebuff or a sneer. Police veterans blame it on inadequate training and lack of gender sensitisation in the ranks. How long have we lived with that excuse and how long will we continue to? Every second, some terrified woman in the urban jungle called the NCR must ask herself that question.
SR Darapuri, Former Inspector General Of Police Vice President Of PUCL, Uttar PradeshÂ
âSensitisation is done through reading out just one chapter on gender issues during police training. How will that help? Usually, someone comes and gives a talk. That is all. Policemen come from various backgrounds, from rural to urban areas. There is a cultural gap. It is these cultural biases that policemen carry with them when they perform their duties. A rape victim is looked at as a culprit who incited the crime. How can one chapter bring about a change in such attitudes?â
Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister, Delhi
âWe are all scared, we are all worried about this atmosphere where women do not feel safe. This has to change. Our government makes it mandatory that all women who work after 8 pm should be dropped home by their employer. I have not seen those tapes myself, but I will watch it and talk to the Police Commissioner myself.â
Kiran Bedi, Former Director General, Bureau Of Police Research & DevelopmentÂ
âBeyond the outrage we need to demand correction by way of pre-induction training before police station posting and mandatory annual training after that for attitude change. Induction training before posting to a police station is a must because law and order and investigation work have not been separated still! Two key practices are a must for police station functioning: Sustained sensitisation, PS training and induction for police station posting.â
Prakash Singh, Former DGP, AssamÂ
âThere are a lot of good officers in the police force. You spoke to some of the bad fish. You should also look at the good work that the police has done. The police is most often the most convenient punching bag. No one cares about policemen who have perished in the line of duty. No one cares about those policemen posted in zones where they cannot even get leaves due to the call of duty. I do not want to comment on this anymore.â