NEW DELHI: The arrest of over 370 persons and detention of around 2,400 - who are alleged to be habitual eve-teasers and stalkers - in just 20 days under an initiative launched by Delhi Police, has once again thrown light on the extent of harassment women have to face in the streets of the national capital.
Areas around shopping malls, university campus and the ones with large migrant population have turned out to be the vulnerable zones with the most number of offenders held from such places, said a senior police official. The southern part of Delhi, which happens to be a hub of posh localities, topped the list of detention with as many as 831 persons detained between August 3 and 23 for allegedly harassing woman on streets, as per Delhi Police records.
Strict vigil near Delhi University's South Campus, Dhaula Kuan and Vasant Vihar - major points where large number of students enrolled in the South Campus colleges board and de-board buses, and areas like Mehrauli and Malviya Nagar, which have huge migrant population and some of the biggest shopping malls, have led to high number of detention, said RS Krishnia, Joint Commissioner of Police (Southeast Range).
The northeast district of Delhi Police, which largely comprises slum clusters and unauthorised colonies, topped the list of arrest with more than 70 persons arrested for alleged stalking, trying to touch women inappropriately, misbehaving and/or showing indecent gestures. East Delhi follows with 69 arrests in the period. The Shishtachar initiative, launched on August 3, is based on the concept of "detain and discipline", said S K Gautam, Joint Commissioner of Police (Central Range).
Under Gautam's supervision, three persons were arrested and 12 more detained for allegedly harassing women in and around the Delhi University campus in north Delhi. The northwest district of Delhi Police ranks second in terms of detention with as many as 552 persons detained for harassing women.
"Most of the offenders were nabbed from areas near the shopping malls - mostly located at Netaji Subhash Place and Pitampura. There are few Delhi University colleges in areas under the jurisdiction of north-west Delhi too and some offenders were found targeting women there. We alerted our officials there," said Sanjay Singh, Joint Commissioner of Police (Northern Range).
During the period, as many as 371 persons were arrested and 2,387 detained for harassing women. The 'Shishtachar' initiative has its focus put on areas where high number of complaints were registered regarding harassment of women on streets. Women officials, who are in their civvies, are deployed there, tasked with tracking down the miscreants, said a senior police official.
"After detention, the police calls up their parents and get them counseled by NGOs, religious leaders and social workers. They are made to promise that they shall not repeat such offence, before they are released," the official added. However, efficacy of such measures in combating crime against women in the long run still remains a question. Such initiatives shall yield no result if they are just carried out on a one-time basis, said Dr Sujata Sharma, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and founder of Parivartan Centre for Mental Health.
"The idea of getting habitual eve-teasers and stalkers counseled can work well if it is structured in a dynamic manner. There should be regular contact established between the offenders and the counseling bodies, so that the errant persons can approach them whenever in need," said Sharma. The accused men should be given productive alternatives to divert them from resorting to any form of crime. Dynamic and regular counseling, with the offenders counseled in their day-to-day lives, can play a great role in reducing crimes against women, Sharma added.