ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Violence against Women

How serious are government agencies about dealing with rape in India's cities?

The aftermath of the abduction and gang rape of a teenage girl in a car in New Delhi on 12 December – the fourth in the capital in the last two months – set off the usual reactions from the government and the media. The police announced measures which should have actually been in place a long time ago. The chief minister gave instructions which had been issued earlier but had not been followed. The media repeated the many inadequacies in police investigation procedures, shortcomings in the judicial system leading to a low rate of conviction of rapists and offered glib explanations for the increasing rate of urban crime. Neither the police nor the media focused on implementation of existing guidelines and learning from the experiences of past cases of rape across the country.

A 30-year-old business process outsourcing (BPO) employee was abducted and assaulted in New Delhi in a moving car on the night of 26 November while she was walking home after getting off an office vehicle. Not only were the National Commission for Women’s (NCW) guidelines regarding the safety of women in BPOs flouted, but the police failed to react quickly though a police control room (PCR) call was made within seconds of the abduction. Following a number of instances of rape and murder of BPO women employees across the country in the past few years, the NCW had directed call centre managements to ensure that women employees are dropped at their doorstep, are not the first to be picked up and the last to be dropped off and that a security guard accompanies them. The teenage victim too was walking to her mother’s factory to pick her up after work. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit said that the labour commissioner had been instructed to “reiterate” orders to drop women at their residences in the night. Why were these orders not being followed until now? Are the guidelines being followed strictly in other parts of the country?

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