Report on NE girls in CWG unfounded

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Kalyan Barooah IN THE ASSAM TRIBUNE

NEW DELHI, Sept 30 – Sensational reports of  ‘40,000 girls’ being ‘hired’ from North Eastern Region by escort agencies for the Commonwealth Games has sent NGOs and Central agencies into a tizzy. While the media including international agencies like BBC have gone to town with reports of 40,000 girls being trafficked to Delhi for escort services by organised cartels, the real story seems quite different.“Thousands of women from India’s North-east have been hired by escort agencies for the Commonwealth Games. Nearly 40,000 women from seven North Eastern States had been hired with promises of ‘lucrative pay’, said a BBC report from Kolkata, quoting Impulse NGO Network.

Says Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini, an NGO working on human trafficking, volunteers drawn from NGOs have been deployed in various train stations in Delhi round-the-clock since last two months, monitoring trains particularly originating from North-east. A similar watch is being kept at Delhi airport by government agencies. In the last two months, 54 human trafficking cases were detected, out of which only one case was from Assam and that too turned out to be a case of forced marriage, said Rishi Kant.

Most of the trafficking cases detected during the run up to the Games were from Jharkhand, West and North Bengal, Rishi Kant, whose organisation was among the first to expose the human trafficking racket involving girls lured from Assam to Haryana, said. Divulging that the government agencies and NGOs, working in the field have stepped up vigil after reports of the possibility of escort agencies entering the scene to take advantage of the demand during the Commonwealth Games, Rishi Kant said they have been monitoring advertisements in newspapers and internet to keep track.

A series of meetings were held between officials of Ministry of Women and Child Welfare, Home Ministry and NGOs to work out a coordination mechanism. “It was after this that the NGOs were engaged to monitor the train stations. Since the last two months, we are watching the various train stations 24X7,” he said.

The Ministry of Home Affairs, as added measures keeping in mind the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, on the recommendation of Ministry of Women and Child Development, issued an advisory to the Chief Secretaries and Principal Secretaries of all the States to take proper action to combat trafficking. Most of the advertisements by the escort agencies are for foreign girls, mostly Russians, and those belonging to erstwhile Soviet block countries, but there were no specific advertisements for girls from North-east India, the Shakti Vahini worker said.

Taken aback by reports of 40,000 girls being hired by escort agencies, Rishi Kant argued that had this been the case, the various NGOs and government agencies working in the field should have detected at least one case. Nevertheless, Shakti Vahini has written a letter to the Commissioner of Police, Delhi to probe the allegations reported by media. Describing chairperson of Impulse NGO Network, a rights group that also rescues trafficked women, Hasina Kharbih’s reported statement, as highly irresponsible, Rishi Kant said that if she has any information, she should share the information with the concerned State Governments.

The revised statement issued by the Home Ministry also makes it necessary to inform authorities about such incidents, he added.

http://www.assamtribune.com/scripts/detailsnew.asp?id=oct0110/at095

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Radio Mirchi wins Silver at the New York Festival Awards

New Delhi : Radio Mirchi was awarded Silver at the New York Festival’s International Radio Awards held at a glitzy Manhattan venue. The New York Festival’s Awards – one of the media world’s most prestigious awards, which is now in its 54th year awarded the Mirchi Delhi breakfast show duo Saurabh and Anant a Silver for “Best Human Interest story” for their moving portrayal of Human Trafficking in India on ‘Hi Delhi’ – their daily morning show.

The international jury were moved by the way the Hi Delhi hosts dealt with the heart rending pain of human trafficking in the country. In a special show they featured an ex-sex worker who was sold into the trade – Rekha. Rekha’s story was the story of a girl who was sold as a child, ending up in a GB road brothel in Delhi, the notorious red light area in the nation’s capital. She narrated her traumatic experiences as a sex worker and virtual slave – sold, abused and exploited until she finally fought her way to freedom with the aid of NGO Shakti Vahini. Rekha narrated the repeated threats to her life, her anxieties and anger at the trafficking trade and the collusion of state authorities that turn a blind eye to the plight of thousands of children who end up in the red light areas in Indian cities and towns. She described her escape to freedom and spoke about her current role as a crusader against trafficking.

RJs Anant & Saurabh, the joyous and proud recipients of the Silver Award said “Rekha’s struggle is a grim reminder of the reality of thousands of helpless women who are victims of human trafficking. Fun and jokes are important to us but we can’t turn a blind eye to such atrocities. It’s an honour for Radio Mirchi and the entire Indian radio fraternity to have been awarded and recognised in a world radio forum. With this acknowledgement Radio Mirchi has been able to make an impression amongst the world’s foremost public broadcast stations. It’s an outstanding beginning and surely paves the way for the years to come. “

The New York Festival is an award of its kind. At this scintillating occasion, about 182 finalists from the radio industry worldwide converged at a Manhattan venue for the awards and competed for top honours across 57 categories for creating break-through shows. Other winners this year included several renowned public and private broadcasters like the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Television Hong Kong, the Voice of America, WNYC, ABC, ESPN Radio, Sirius XM Satellite Radio and Classic FM (UK). With their exceptional triumph at the New York Festival Awards, Delhi’s favourite RJs not only made their fans and Mirchi lovers proud but also set a parameter for socially relevant radio that every commercial, format radio can integrate into their regular music and entertainment.

Fear makes most victims suffer in silence

DURGESH NANDAN JHA IN TIMES OF INDIA SEPTEMBER 19,2010

CHILD ABUSE

CHILD ABUSE

New Delhi: About 50% of children in India are subjected to sexual abuse by people known to them and who are in a position of trust and responsibility. According to child psychiatrists,due to increased communication gap between children and parents many of these cases do not get reported.The victims suffer in silence as has been highlighted by the year-long abuse of the three sibling in the capital which got exposed only after the neighbours alerted the police. Mostly,children dont report the assaults to anyone.The perpetrators of the sexual violence are people whom they trust and who are known to family members.Also,the perpetrators threaten them with dire consequences if they tell anyone about it, said Dr Jitender Nagpal,consultant psychiatrist,Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health and Sciences (VIMHANS).

He said the abuse of both male and female child is common.Abused children suffer from low self-esteem,poor management of negative emotions and weak communication and social skills, said Nagpal.

CHILD ABUSE

CHILD ABUSE

Rishi Kant,a child rights activist,said: A government commissioned survey conducted in 2007 stated that 53% of children are subjected to sexual abuse.The survey which covered different forms of child abuse physical,sexual and emotional found that two out of every three children have been physically abused.Three years down the line,the number of cases have increased but no steps have been taken by the government to punish the perpetrators of sexual abuse and violence or to sensitise children about this.Few schools have counsellors with whom the children can share their grievances.

Nagpal said: The perpetrators often refer to children in pure or angelic terms using words like innocent,divine and pure to describe them.Parents should be alert about such traits.Parents need to communicate with their wards as much as possible.

The involvement of students as young as 14 years in the recent criminal act is reflective of the negative impact of exposure to sexual images in media and internet. Delhi health minister Kiran Walia,who is the minister for women and child development in the state,said that the government will appoint counsellors in schools.The legal redressal has to be quick and as stringent as possible in these cases, she said.

The price of being a woman: Slavery in modern India

The desire for sons has created a severe shortage of marriageable young women. As their value rises, unscrupulous men are trading them around the subcontinent and beyond as if they were a mere commodity

By Justin Huggler , 3 APRIL 2006 ,The Independent, London

Tripla’s parents sold her for £170 to a man who had come looking for a wife. He took her away with him, hundreds of miles across India, to the villages outside Delhi. It was the last time she would see her home. For six months, she lived with him in the village, although there was never any formal marriage. Then, two weeks ago, her husband, Ajmer Singh, ordered her to sleep with his brother, who could not find a wife. When Tripla refused, he took her into the fields and beheaded her with a sickle.

When Rishi Kant, an Indian human rights campaigner, tracked down Tripla’s parents in the state of Jharkhand and told them the news, her mother broke down in tears. “But what could we do?” she asked him. “We are facing so much poverty we had no choice but to sell her.”

Tripla was a victim of the common practice in India of aborting baby girls because parents only want boys. Although she was born and lived into early adulthood, it was the abortions that caused her death. In the villages of Haryana, just outside Delhi, abortions of baby girls have become so common that the shortage of women is severe. Unable to find wives locally, the men have resorted to buying women from the poorer parts of India. Just 25 miles from the glitzy new shopping malls and apartment complexes of Delhi is a slave market for women.

Last week, an Indian doctor became the first to be jailed for telling a woman the sex of her unborn baby. India is trying to stamp out the practice of female foeticide. But in the villages of Haryana, the damage has already been done. Indian parents want boys because girls are seen as a heavy financial burden: the parents have to provide an expensive dowry for their weddings, while sons will bring money into the family when they marry, and have better job prospects.

But in Haryana, so many female foetuses have been aborted that there aren’t enough women for the men to marry. The result is a thriving market in women, known in local slang as baros, who have been bought from poorer parts of India. Anyone in the villages can tell you the going rates. The price ranges from 3,000 rupees (£40) to 30,000 rupees for a particularly beautiful woman. Skin colour and age are important pricing criteria. So is whether the woman is a virgin.

When the police arrested Tripla’s husband, he could not provide a marriage certificate. Generally, there is no real marriage. The women are sexual “brides” only. Sometimes, brothers who cannot afford more share one woman between them. Often, men who think they have got a good deal on a particularly beautiful bride will sell her at a profit.

Munnia was sold when she was only 17. Considered particularly beautiful, she was resold three times in the space of a few weeks. Like Tripla, she came from Jharkhand, but she was lucky: she escaped. Today she is in a government shelter for women. As she tells her story, she breaks down in tears several times.

“My father sold me to a man called Dharma,” she says. “I don’t know if he paid for me or not. I came to Delhi with my mother on the train, and then Dharma took me to his village. He used to beat me very badly. He used to hit me until I allowed him to sleep with me. Usually it went on for half an hour.”

She was with Dharma just 20 days before he sold her. Her route criss-crossed northern India: Dharam took her to his home in Rajasthan, before selling her to a man in Haryana. “He told me: ‘I have sold you to a man for 30,000 rupees’,” she says. “But when we got there I realised that man wanted to sell me on as well. Then I ran away.”

She found a social worker who helped her escape. In that she was fortunate: few of the women who run away from the villages where she was make it out alive. Government medical tests found she had been raped by two men. She was only 17 at the time, and the age of consent in India is 18.

“My father told me Dharma would marry me, but the marriage never took place,” she says, blinking in the sun. She is deeply traumatised by her experiences; all the time she speaks, her hands play nervously with her shawl. When we ask if she wants to go home, she says: “I don’t know anything. I have no will and no hope in this world.”

She is the lucky one, all the same. In the villages she escaped from, hundreds of women are trapped in similar slave marriages. The village of Ghasera is a world away from nearby Delhi. It is still walled, like a fortress from centuries ago, and you enter through a narrow gateway. The roads are dirt and the houses ramshackle huts: It is hard to believe you’re just an hour and a half’s drive from the bright new India that is being courted as an ally by the US and attracting investors from across the world. More than 100 brides have been imported to this village alone, according to locals.

The people are hostile and crowd round strangers suspiciously. Even the police don’t risk coming in to these villages unarmed. Villagers have attacked police who tried to rescue the brides, and set their cars on fire.

Anwari Katun was sold for £130 and brought here from Jharkhand. The house she is living in now is thick with flies, so many they make patterns in the air as they swarm. A small girl is asleep in the corner, flies crawling over her face.

Ms Katun wants to tell her story, but the villagers crowd into her house and stand by menacingly as she tries to speak. Her fear is evident as they stand by. Most prominent is an old woman who moves forward threateningly when Ms Katun says she is not happy. Cowed by the crowd she says: “I accept what happened to me. I’m not happy but I accept it. This is a woman’s life. The only thing I want is that this doesn’t happen to my sisters, that they never get sold like this.”

With that, she sits in silence. Desperation is written on her face, but she is afraid to say any more with the villagers crowding around. Once they are here, with no family and no friends the women are helpless.

Rishi Kant has spent the past four years rescuing women like Ms Katun. A jovial man in designer sunglasses, he once spent four nights in Delhi’s notorious Tihar jail when police carried out mass arrests of protesters at a human rights rally. His organisation, Shkati Vahini, has rescued more than 150 trafficked women. But he says he can do nothing for Ms Katun at the moment. The government women’s shelter in Haryana state has places for only 25 women, and it is full. When there is no space, he can do nothing: there is nowhere else safe for the women to go. As soon as a place opens up, he says, he will go back for Ms Katun.

To get the women out of the villages, he has to enlist the help of the police. In villages such as Ghasera, the police only raid in heavy numbers, and only in the middle of the night, when they can take the villagers by surprise. Otherwise, the heavily armed villagers will resist by force. But the police are co-operative, and do get the women out. Then the long process of tracking down their parents, and trying to get them home, if possible, begins.

Getting the women out of the villages is often not easy. Recently, Mr Kant found a trafficked woman who convinced him that the man who had brought her to Haryana was running a business, and had several more women. He and the police waited in the hope the woman could lead them to the trafficker. But when they got back the next day, it appeared he had become suspicious. The woman had disappeared. Mr Kant believes she was probably sold to another part of India. He hasn’t found any trace of her.

Many of the trafficked women in the villages are minors. Shabila came to Ghasera from Assam, a thousand miles away. She says she is 25, but she doesn’t look a day over 15. One of the women in the government shelter, Havari, looks the same age. She is highly disturbed and talks at one moment of having had a baby, then denies it the next. She has hacked off all her hair. There is no psychiatric counselling for the women.

One of the women in Ghasera told us her sister had been sold to the village along with her, then kidnapped from it and exported to Oman. She was desperate for help to get her out.

Some of the trafficked women become traffickers themselves. Maryam, who was sold here from her native Maharashtra in 1985, has just arranged the sale of another woman, Roxana, to the village for 10,000 rupees. Although Ghasera is poor, it is better off than many of the remote villages the women come from. With their contacts there, the trafficked women can easily entice others to come voluntarily. But once they come, there is no way out. Some of the women become reconciled to their lives. Afsana speaks openly in front of her husband of her unhappiness over the years here: she is not afraid of him. Although there was no formal marriage, they have stayed together.

“I never thought I would come here. I never even thought about where Haryana was,” she says. “There are several girls who do not want to stay, but what can they do? They are in a helpless situation.”

Her husband, Dawood, could not get a wife locally because he has a damaged eye. He travelled to Bihar and saw several women before choosing Afsana. He paid £40. He complains that there aren’t enough women in Haryana, but he does not see the link between aborting female foetuses and the shortage of women.

In Asouti, a village a short drive away, you can find the reason behind all the suffering of the slave brides of Haryana. Lakhmi Devi had five abortions, each because the child she was carrying was a girl. She had already given birth to four daughters.

She is still tortured by guilt over the abortions. “It is better for a mother to die than to kill her daughters,” she says. “I was under immense pressure from my husband’s family to provide him with a son. My mother-in-law even demanded I get another woman to sleep with my husband to give him a son.” Eventually, she gave birth to a boy, Praveen, and her agony was over.

A recent study by Indian and Canadian researchers found 500,000 girls are aborted every year in India. Today Haryana has only 861 women for every 1,000 men. Strict laws have been put in place to prevent the practice. Abortion is legal in India but testing the gender of a foetus is not. Anil Singh, a Haryana doctor, was sentenced last week to two years in prison for telling a woman she was carrying a girl and offering an abortion.

But still, the abortions go on. To get round the police, doctors have started using codes to tell the people the sex of their baby: if the ultrasound report is written in blue ink, it’s a boy; if it’s in red ink, it’s a girl. If the report is delivered on Monday, it’s a boy, if it’s Friday, it’s a girl.

Meanwhile the trafficked women keep coming, from across India, to fill the places of the unborn women.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/the-price-of-being-a-woman-slavery-in-modern-iindia-472548.html

Trauma, scars won’t go away easily

BY DURGESH NANDAN JHA IN THE SUNDAY TIMES OF INDIA NEW DELHI SEPTEMBER 19 , 2010

New Delhi: Fear played a major part in the children not reporting the matter to their mother. Whenever the girl refused to have sex with the accused, Lalit Ratawal allegedly used to threaten he would kill her brothers.

The mother is, of course, shattered. She is unable to comprehend what needs to be done to get them out of their traumatic state. Since Friday night, the children were at Prasad Nagar police station, and later on Saturday they were taken to Tis Hazari where their testimony was recorded before a magistrate. Child activists and psychologists said all the media attention can aggravate their trauma. ‘‘Sensitive handling of the victims is required in such cases. Police investigation should not be carried out hurriedly at the cost of care required for the victims. They need to be kept in a quiet environment where there is family support,’’ said Dr Nimesh Desai, Director, Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IBHAS).

CHILD ABUSE

CHILD ABUSE

He said that while de-addiction is possible in a month, it may take years for the children to come out of the mental trauma. The NGO facilitating treatment and counselling told TOI on Saturday that the brothers — 10 and seven years respectively — have become addicted to the drugs their abuser routinely administered to them. The victims were produced before a member of the child welfare committee late in the evening on Saturday. Raj Mangal Prasad, chairperson of the child welfare committee, said he got to know about the case from the media. ‘‘Action for care, protection, treatment and rehabilitation of the victims will be taken up on Monday,’’ Prasad said.

‘‘They are traumatized and unable to speak much about the actions of the accused. There is an acute sense of helplessness. The girl says she is always feeling sleepy and displays no emotions due to what she put up with silently for such a long time,’’ said Rashi Aditi Ghosh, a counsellor with Shakti Vahini, an NGO.

HOW TO DETECT ABUSE

As per the a government’s commissioned survey released by the ministry of women and child development three years ago, more than 53% of children in India are subjected to sexual abuse, but most don’t report the matter

Who are the perpetrators?
Parents and relatives, people known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility. It can be the neighbours, teachers, employers, police and strangers

What should parents do?
Children upto 3-4 years should not be left in the care of anyone other than parents
Parents should interact more with their children — about their school, friends and classes
There should not be a communication gap between parents and children
Sex education should be encouraged
Children should be counselled about the ‘right touch’ and ‘wrong touch’
If the child withdraws from daily activities or avoids school or refuses to meet anyone parents should enquire about the reasons Most of the time, abused children avoid going to the place where they undergo the exploitation Children should be encouraged to report matter

THE FALLOUT

Psychological problems Lack of sleep Anxiety and panic attack Physical discomfort like nausea, vomiting and headache Angry outbursts Acute sense of helplessness

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‘Traumatized victims are drug addicts’

SEPTEMBER 19 , TIMES OF INDIA NEW DELHI

BY DURGESH NANDAN JHA

New Delhi: Their tormentor is in police custody but the three children’s trauma has not ended. The siblings were sexually abused for more than a year. The NGO facilitating treatment and counselling told TOI on Saturday that the brothers — 10 and seven years respectively — have become addicted to the drugs their abuser routinely administered to them. The girl, 12, is said to be not saying much. The intense media interest in the case and the strong police presence has compounded the problem.

‘‘They are traumatized and unable to speak much about the actions of the accused. There is an acute sense of helplessness. The girl says she is always feeling sleepy and displays no emotions due to what she put up with silently for such a long time,’’ said Rashi Aditi Ghosh, a counsellor with Shakti Vahini, an NGO. She said medical reports had confirmed the children had been given drugs to make them more pliable. ‘‘Even the youngest victim, who is seven, has got addicted to drugs. Medical investigations are being carried out to know the exact nature of the drugs.

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Nothing ‘natural’ about it

Violence against women is rooted deep in the way girls are brought up to become ‘women’ and boys are made into ‘men’
Shaweta Anand , Delhi

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

That women are not treated with dignity unless they shout from rooftops is to say the least. Women often find that they are treated as non-intellectual objects meant to entertain men at workplaces, perhaps so that the latter can perform better in a competitive, aggressive environment. Many office-going, educated women complain about not being treated in their day-to-day dealings with men in public and private spaces as human beings with intellect and their own subjectivity.

Talking about the subtle violence against women in media offices, Smriti Singh (name changed), a media professional who has worked for at least three Indian TV channels in the last ten years, says: “We often find the camera men or their assistants desperate to put the lapel mike (small microphone wired from under the clothes) on women celebrities or news reporters, just for that ever-so-slight touch of pleasure while adjusting the wires. Sometimes other male co-workers in the studio wait through the process to see if the woman’s cleavage would get accidentally revealed, even for a fleeting moment. And then this becomes the staple of the men’s gossip sessions, which get more graphic and enjoyable, but only for them.”

Even walking the city streets alone can make a woman feel very unsafe. “No matter what I wear, men ogle at me. When I was in school, I stopped walking to tuition classes alone because boys on bikes would ride past making kissing sounds. It became very annoying and a constant source of anxiety for me,” shares Vidhi Choudhary, a student from the Centre for Media Studies.

“I HAVE A car now, so I feel much safer when I travel,” she adds. But a far greater number of women have to depend on public transport. “Travelling in buses is such a nightmare. During monsoons, even metro travel has become so unpleasant. Someone or the other is always on the lookout for that split second when he can touch a woman’s private parts as it is easy to blame the overcrowding when confronted,” says Savita Sindhu, a Delhi University student.

So what do women do when they are harassed? “Some stay silent and ignore troublesome men while others choose to confront them. Either way, we should not let our work get affected,” says Choudhary.

Even the relatively progressive Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is not free of incidents of harassment of women. “Physical mobility gets restricted for most girls once they are out of the JNU campus. However, even within the campus we keep getting cases of violence ranging from mental to physical torture faced by women despite being in consensual relationships, and even after marriage,” says Akanksha Kumar, former student representative of the JNU’s Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH), a pioneering institution that acknowledges and punishes harassers on campus, both men or women, after a rigorous formal enquiry and fact-finding process.

“At least three recent cases of violence faced by girl students from their male teachers have come to light. The power dynamics in such cases come into play much more strongly. If the girls speak up, they might lose out on grades, but if they don’t, they will certainly lose their self-esteem. Understandably, speaking up is a difficult choice at this point, but a few women do make that choice,” says Kumar.

With a patriarchal set-up,restrictions on women start from childhood itself and gradually get extended to higher institutes of learning or work spaces as well, as if restricting and silencing women is the most ‘natural’ thing to do,” explains Akhila Singh, a Delhi-based women’s activist. From the clothes they wear to how ‘gracefully’ they should walk and talk, who they can speak with, how many hours they can spend out of home – limitations on women cover almost everything under the sun. Of course, depending on where they are located – for instance, whether in the rural or urban set-up – the restrictions (and the violence or suppression if they resist) can take various forms.

Indeed, killing of couples-in-love reveals an all-time low in levels of misogyny – as if female foeticide, infanticide, high levels of anaemia and malnutrition in women weren’t enough of social problems based on deep-seated discrimination against women. Ninety per cent of the times, it is the girl’s family that attacks the duo as their ‘honour’ gets violated when she chooses to fall in love and decides to marry a man outside set social norms. This was one of the findings of a study conducted by National Commission for Women in 2009 with help from Shakti Vahini, an NGO.

Advocate Renu Mishra, who has been relentlessly fighting for women’s rights in Lucknow for the past decade, gives an interesting depiction of the subtlety in the working of patriarchal norms. She says, “If a girl straightens her spine and walks briskly with her eyes meeting the eyes of the passers-by, without her shoulders drooping an inch, she is immediately ‘corrected’ by someone in the family and asked to walk demurely, head bent downwards, to be a ‘decent’ girl. But  if a man walks hesitantly, with his eyes on his feet, he’s instantly reprimanded and asked to ‘become a man’ by fearlessly looking up into the eyes of people as he walks on the street.”  It is from here that the difference in socialisation begins.

Being fearful thus becomes a desired feminine trait, but ‘boys become men’ as they turn aggressive. “But in police stations and courts, women are generally asked why didn’t they fight back or resist the perpetrator hard enough. How can anyone sane expect women to fight back or strongly resist a man when all they are taught from childhood is to stay quiet and submit to them?” rues Mishra.

“For thousands of years, women have been trapped inside homes. Today, a large number of them have chosen to move out of the domestic sphere with vigour and determination. This effort to change the status-quo by questioning male domination in every possible way is being met with rising rates of crime against women,” says Albeena Shakil, member of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA).

The Delhi Human Development Report 2006 published by the Delhi government, in a section devoted to crime against women and safety, points to the alarming rise in the rate of crime against women in the capital. Adverse female-to-male ratio, high levels of rapes, sexual harassment, domestic violence etc make Delhi a very hostile and unfriendly city for women.

According to the ‘Safe Cities Baseline Survey’, whose findings were released in July 2010 by Kiran Walia, state minister for health and family welfare, violence against women is quite ‘normalised’ in the city. A large number of women live in a constant state of anxiety when out of home. However, as the National Crime Records Bureau data shows, this heightened state of discomfort is not a Delhi-specific phenomenon.

It is one thing to dig out studies and surveys to say how terrible this male-dominated society is. It is quite another to survive this suffocating system and to involve men as well in the process.

“Often men don’t know how to help and have to be told how to do so without confrontation with the perpetrator,” remarks Dr Suraiya Baluch, director of Princeton University’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resource and Education (SHARE) programme. Speaking at an event organised by GSCASH in JNU, Baluch acknowledged high levels of violence against women in the US and discussed community-level solutions that seek to involve everyone, especially bystanders, in stopping acts of harassment of women.
In a similar vein, Ruchi Sinha, Chairperson, Centre for Criminology and Justice, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, says it is not feasible for women alone to deal with the high rates of crime against them. For instance, all-women police stations were earlier sought as havens of justice for female victims of violence since policemen don’t take their complaints seriously. But the actual experience in states like Orissa and Tamil Nadu showed that women police officers end up being heavy-handed or indiscriminate, promoting the very stereotypes they were meant to break. Indeed, violence against women cries out for an all-inclusive approach, which doesn’t shrink from looking beyond merely legal solutions.

http://www.hardnewsmedia.com/2010/09/3686