Self Defense Training – a part of Education as well as in Corporates
Ever since the 16 December gang rape case, there has been a surge in women inquiring for self-defense classes. With Municipal School Board (MSB) in Surat hiring a private organization to teach self-defense techniques in its 292 schools having 1.45L students, 70K of them being girls; Gurgaon Government Girls College launching a month-long self-defense program to train both students and teachers; Haryana Government asking the School Education Department to hold self-defense classes for girl students; and a school in Mumbai organizing self-defense workshop for its students, there is definitely some action happening around. But all of these are knee-jerk reactions or moment of heat.
It will not do much help unless there is some concentrated program is created that incorporates self-defense, a part of our education as well as corporate culture. Young girls, especially the ones between the age 10 and 20 are the ones most affected by the acts of molestation and other kinds of sexual abuse. Incorporating self-defense as a part of yearly school curriculum will train the next generation to fight against the molesters. It will also instill more confidence and become more independent while moving around. While United States allows gun licenses, all Indian government can at least do it to equip our women with weaponless self-defense techniques, which, by the way, should also include techniques on how to disarm the assailant.
In addition, for the companies, especially the ones which require women on late shifts, it should become mandatory to organize yearly or biannually workshops that train the employees against attacks. Especially the women, who take company cabs to reach back home, should be taught how to protect themselves in a cab set-up and precautions that needs to be taken before getting into the cab.
More Lady Police Officers
With highly male dominated police force having only 6.5% lady police officers, the patriarchal mindset has contaminated the Indian police system as well, especially in North India. Whatever be the official numbers for crimes against women in India, there are thousands of cases that go unreported simply because police refuse to register them. This problem is particularly acute in rural India where more of rule of the locals than state or the centre is. As mentioned earlier, a 17 year old girl in Patiala, Punjab committed suicide after police refused to register an FIR. Instead, the girl was called often at police station and was asked uncomfortable questions by the male police officers. At the end, she killed herself. This is only one off cases which repeats itself in different parts of the country every day.
Having more lady police officers will help victims be more comfortable and confident in reaching out to Police for such crimes. Moreover, cases of crimes against women should, as long as possible, be handled by lady police officers only. The government has realized the fact. While the Home Ministry has announced recruitment of 2,500 police officers planned ahead, Karnataka government announced 3,000 police women to be recruited in the coming days. However, the total numbers, in comparison to the total police force in India. As of now, only 11 cities in India have women operated police stations. This number needs to go up.
Joining police should be encouraged among girls. Additional incentives compared to men police officers and certain reservations (much better than providing reservations based on caste) can be a temporary booster.
Updating Police Training to Help Them Deal with Crime against Women Cases
Increasing sensitivity of police officers towards crime against women is one of the major challenges in bringing about the change in the way police deals with such cases. It should be remembered that these police officers come from the same society that we live in and therefore, would be having similar mindset that males in the society have.
Where the difference can be made is in their training which needs to include training on how to deal with sensitive cases like rape and make sure that the police remain a protector of the victim and not a threat. Special training or a code of conduct, even for the existing officers, should be established on how to ask questions without making the victim embarrassed should be specifically provided. Although majority of the times when police asks embarrassing questions to the victim, it is intentional. Strict laws should be framed and implemented for police officers violating the code of conduct. Use of voice enabled CCTV cameras can help reducing the incidents.
I am sure there are many other solutions that can be implemented from both, long term and short term, perspectives. However, the end objective is always to build a better society where women feel safe and respected. Unless we do that, we have no right to be proud of our culture.