City Is Not Smart Until It’s Safe
In this context of growing dangers for women and girls in the cities of India, a discussion between social, legal, police and executive stakeholders on ‘Creating Safe Cities: Strategic Interventions and Innovative Response Mechanisms’ was organized by the Centre for Social Research on 20th December 2016. The agenda was to make concrete evidence and best practices’ based suggestions for improving safety and security of women.
As per the National Crime Records Bureau 2015, 36,712 rape cases have been reported. In the light of the recent Moti Bagh rape case, the citizens are once again awakened to the ruthlessness with which such crimes are committed with impunity. It reflects a brazen and callous attitude towards law and order by those who perpetrate crimes.
The National Conference brought all the stakeholders on one platform and a dynamic exchange of ideas undertook which covered the spectrum of issues regarding women’s safety in public places, workplaces and mobility. Over fifty participants represented academia, legal system and civil society organizations. Ms. Lalitha Kumar Mangalam, Ms. Kamlesh Banchal and Ms. Swati Maliwal represented National and State Commissions for Women. Professor Dr. Anand Kumar, a prominent professor of Sociology at Jawaharlal Nehru University and a member of Swaraj Abhiyan Party represented academia and the legal system. Mr. Praveen Sood, Additional Director General of Police represented the legal system. Ms. Brinda Adige, Ms. Khadija Farooqui, and many others represented activists and tabled the issues.
Dr. Ranjana Kumari (Director Centre for Social Research) started with pointing out that the last conference in June 2015 on the same topic created and an impact was seen with the 20 point agenda. Furthermore, states like Telangana and Karnataka are making huge progress in creating cities that are safe and smart for women. She said that there is a need for learnings from Munich on dialogue training and gender training for Indian police officials where the crime rate is very low. Identification of dark patches slums and anti-social areas should be given utmost priority.
Dr. Anand Kumar (Prominent professor Sociology at JNU and founder member of Swaraj Abhiyan Party) said that there is a Paradigm shift in the diversity of thoughts in the older generation and which is why it is important to have similar initiatives like Pinjara Tod. There has also been a shift from the Pardah system to women empowerment and need for women perspective in the social, political and economic domain is imperative.
Ms. Lalitha Kumar Mangalam (Member of the BJP and chairperson of the National Commission for Women) made points like there is a need for active community involvement and that CCTV cameras and surveillance are not enough as criminals are well-versed with the technology. Also, prisons need to be made safer for women. Furthermore, the advertisement industry has played a key role in encouraging gender inequality that needs to be checked urgently.
Mr. Praveen Sood (Addl. Director General Of Police Administration, Bangalore) agreed that cyber crimes are not being investigated. He said that Nirbhaya case has not gone anywhere in 4 years and that we need to stop the blame game with the police. He also stated severe punishments such as hanging to death should not be a considered a good solution. Criminals should be given time-based punishments, that has a larger impact on the mental health of the criminal and once he/she is out, society would benefit at large. Moreover, he added that don’t get carried away by statistics – some states where it’s going high it does mean that women are becoming more vocal about violence that is being inflicted on them. Whereas, places where crime rates are falling, it could be scary since it could mean that women are fearful about reporting it.
Swati Maliwal (DCW Chairperson) said that there has been surveillance in buses post Nirbhaya case by rolling out a special task on NH8, creation of commission and coordination between parliament and government. Women commission of Delhi demands not using Nirbhaya Fund for CCTV’s and there is an urgent need for proper implementation of victim compensation scheme. Another important point she made was that there need to be more meetings and coordination between the center and the state government and a well-formed committee catering to women’s safety should be in place very soon. Also, there are very few forensic labs and proper investigation of notices and letters send by NGO’s and organizations should be taken care off.
Several other speakers gave their recommendations and CSR is working towards making sure that they are pushed forward to create an impact. The detailed report would be updated soon.