WOMEN'S SAFETY IN KOLKATA: A CRUMBLING ILLUSION

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Respected Sir,

Every single day single women, young girls, mothers and women from all walks of life are being assaulted, molested, and violated. The streets, public transport, schools, public spaces, in particular, have become the territory of the hunters. While the ones already hunted down weep in silence or in disdain, the rest fight their way to a basic life with dignity.

We don't need to look at statistics to confront the horrid truth. News stories of women from all over India being raped, beaten, killed are flashed across us day after day – and we all are aware of it. The recent case of the four-year-old girl of GD Birla school had shocked the entire city.

In light of the recent atrocities committed on women and girls, shouldn’t this issue be of the utmost concern to our government? Not only does this make our city unsafe for almost half it’s existing population, but it also puts Kolkata in a very bad light internationally. That we are refusing to tackle the issue with a clear strategy, eliminating the problems one step at a time, and giving our daughters a chance for a secure future, is disappointing.

I understand that the lack of women’s safety is not just one problem; it is the culmination of years of inequality. The problem of dealing with policemen who treat issues of sexual harassment with callousness; the problem that society does not view non-rape sexual offense, like eve-teasing, with the seriousness that it should; the problem of moral police who consider dressing up as provocative; the problem that our boys are being taught that women are not equal; the problem of a sexually repressed society; the list of problems does seem endless.

So here is a suggestion. Let’s start with the tangible issues that have the probabilities of being tackled. I would like to propose this ten-step strategy to address that issue:

1.     Developing a good women safety application.

2.     Increasing number of women police personals.

3.     Install CCTV at strategic places, beefing up police security system, continuously monitoring them and more police patrolling.

4.     Stricter non-bail able laws.

5.     There must be the allocation of women personnel who should be dedicated to alleviating the trauma of a victimized woman.

6.     A rape victim may ask for her medical examination to be conducted by a female doctor.

7.     She can also choose to give her statement to lady police personnel. As far as practicable, a lady police officer shall be deputed for this job. If it is not possible, it shall be ensured that some local women must be present at the time of registration of FIR and recording of statement.

8.     GPS and CCTVs must be installed in almost every transport services of the city. If any illegal things are not done the transport’s driver should not deny the installation. Also, double the number of street lights and provide round-the-clock public transportation for women.

9.     Encouraging girls and women to establish a strong base in self-defense and holding such events frequently.

10.   Taking regular feedback on the problems girls and women are still facing and solving them without any procrastination.

While this might not be the only or even the ideal solution, I believe it is the start of a more solution-focused discussion to the problems. It is not the time to sit in our chairs and raise fingers at what is wrong in Kolkata; it is time to take action. If not with actual labor, then with diligently researched strategies. Our country is known for its brilliant minds, the IITs, and IIMs; why not engage their talent by putting forth competitions that are aimed at designing solutions to other women safety-related issues? Meanwhile, many of us will be more than willing to help if the situation so demands, all you have to do is ask. Let’s be united and bring a change and make Kolkata a lot safer.

Sincerely,

Abhijeet.



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