Violence against women in Bangalore: official numbers tip of iceberg
Bangalore, March 5 (IANS) When it comes to the number of women being subjected to violence on the streets of this tech hub of India, official figures conceal far more than they reveal, according to women's rights activists.
'For every single reported case, 10 or more lie hidden,' says Jagdeesh B.N., one of the founder members of Fearless Karnataka/Nirbhaya Karnataka (FKNK), a social group working for safety and security of women. Most of the cases of physical and verbal abuse on women on the streets of Bangalore were not reported, he added.
'Our experience says that out of every single reported case of violence against women in Bangalore, around 10 or more go unreported,' Jagdeesh told IANS. 'That makes one equal to 11.'
Jagdeesh, who is also a member of Alternative Law Forum, said that so many cases were going unreported because police were not very cooperative and Indian society often ended up by blaming the victim, rather than punishing the culprit.
'Victims often avoid going to police station and filing FIR (First Information Report), as most often police is not cooperative and makes the victim undergo unnecessary trauma by their interrogation. Moreover, our society sees the victim of harassment and violence, as a woman with loose morals. Thus most of these incidents don't come to the fore and victims prefer to silently endure the trauma and pain.'
According to the figures available with the police here, 170 cases were reported in Bangalore under section 354 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) in 2008. Around 180 cases were reported under the section in 2007. Section 354 of IPC refers to outraging the modesty of a woman.
The police said that compilation of the number of cases registered under the section in 2009 was still going on.
FKNK had been formed to make Bangalore streets safe for women and to encourage the victims to report at police stations about their trauma, Jagdeesh explained. The forum was started Feb 26 as a joint initiative by several social groups of Bangalore, almost an immediate reaction to the five cases of attack on women on various streets of Bangalore within a fortnight.
There was a patern to the five cases - motorcycle borne attackers targeted women by physically and verbally abusing them for wearing western outfits.
'In recent episodes of attack on women on streets in the city, molesters told the victims to stop wearing western outfits. Moreover, all the attacks happened in crowded places and sizeable number of spectators simply watched the horror unfolding in front of them, instead of helping the women,' rued Shakun Mohini, a member of Vimochana, a women's rights group that is a part of FKNK.
Shakun added that FKNK has already started sensitisation programmes among people across Bangalore, so that they help the women in distress.
On International Women's Day March 8, members of the group and other citizens will walk down various prominent roads of the city. Christened 'Take Back the Night Walk', this will be an attempt by women to reclaim their right to be safe at night across the state.
Shakun said that Bangalore immediately needs a special helpline for quick help to women who are abused and harassed on the roads. 'The helpline will ensure that immediate rescue measures for the victims could be ensured and arrest of those involved in such assaults on women.'
In a memorandum submitted to Bangalore Police Commissioner Shankar Bidari Monday, FKNK has demanded that a dedicated 24 hour helpline be set up, exclusively for women in distress.
Bangalore has Vanita Sahayavani, a helpline dedicated to women. NGO Parihar runs the service along with a toll free telephone number 1091. But the helpline mostly deals with cases of marital discord and provides counselling to estranged couples.