BENGALURU: Once touted as one of the safest metropolitan cities to live in, Bengaluru has now become one of the most unsafe cities for women. While the state government and police department have not been able to keep its women safe on the city streets, in the last six months Bengaluru has witnessed a spurt in cases of crimes like rape and molestation. While Deputy Chief Minister Dr G. Parameshawar has been stressing on ensuring safety of women and called upon the police to intensify patrolling on roads and install 5,000 CCTV cameras on key roads, the women activists are not impressed. They feel mere installation of cameras on roads is not enough.
They demand a comprehensive planning and measures to be taken by the authorities to provide security to the city's women. It has become a challenge for a woman to travel in this city. She can't take public transport as most cases of molestation and harassment take place in buses, bus stand and other public places. Cabs too are not safe as there have been numerous case of drivers misbehaving, assaulting and molesting women. Bengaluru has earned a title of 'Unsafe City for Women', women activists claim.
Recently, a minor girl was abducted and taken to city's outskirts, where she was gang-raped by three men for three days. The 15-year-old minor was later thrown at the pick-up point, (in front of a park) in Kodigehalli Gate. On August 2, wife of an army soldier set herself ablaze, unable to bear with constant harassment by her neighbour.
‘Cameras of little help’
Tara Krishnaswamy, an activist from Citizens for Bengaluru said, “The concept or idea of providing safety and security to its women has to be comprehensive. Merely putting up cameras will not solve the problem. The government shouldn't adopt the piecemeal approach, but work on an overall structure and should come up with comprehensive measures to ensure that women are safe.” On the reason for state's failure to ensure women's safety, experts said there are no databases created or maintained for drivers attached to private cabs.
Therefore many cases pertaining to assault on women happen while women are using public transport. There are several aspects like lack of enough policewomen on the streets, not so friendly approach of the police force in general, no proper patrolling in dark spots such as parks, isolated corners and bus stands.
Echoing the similar views, K S Vimala, state president of Janawadi Mahila Sanghatana said, “Sadly, the state machinery has failed to keep their women and children safe. The whole approach of installing CCTV cameras across streets is ludicrous. It will only be a momentary solution, whereas things need to change on ground.”
The figures released by the City Crime Records Bureau are far from encouraging. The number sexual harassment and molestation cases in the city have increased from 774 in 2016 to 977 in 2017 and rape cases have increased from 99 in 2016 to 131 in 2017.
In 2018 till June 30, 56 rape cases were registered and 399 sexual harassment and molestation cases were registered in the city. North division tops the list with number of sexual harassment and molestation cases increasing from 131 cases in 2016 to 255 in 2017. In the first half of 2018, 108 cases have been registered. This is followed by the South East division.
Joint Commissioner of Police N. Satheesh Kumar told DC that unlike in other cities, people in Bengaluru are more open to reporting them. Because of awareness programmes conducted by social welfare and child welfare departments, people here more aware, he said. “In Bengaluru, registering complaints has become easy. People don't have to go to a police station to file a complaint. All they have to do is to download a form from the app and file the complaint. When it comes to crimes against women, the police have been directed to register the complaints immediately” he said. A senior officer said there has been a spurt in crimes in North Division, because a large number of immigrant workers reside in that part of the city.