INTERVIEW| Most women who report sexual abuse are aged 16-20: Tamil Nadu DGP C Sylendra Babu
In conversation with TNIE, TN DGP Sylendra Babu says all efforts are being taken to ensure that crimes against women are prevented.
Published: 28th March 2022 04:19 AM | Last Updated: 28th March 2022 10:18 AM | A+A A-
CHENNAI: Women's faith in the police force has increased and more victims are coming forward to file complaints, said DGP C Sylendra Babu during a chat with The New Indian Express on the steps taken by the department to improve’s women's safety.
Police are known to solve all sorts of crimes, but there are also times when they resort to victim-blaming.
It is a question of attitude and not law. I agree some police officials may not be sensitive. It is our job to change this. We have 11 in-service training centres in the State where periodical training is held. The first and foremost principle taught is to never blame the victim. Inspectors are not supposed to be demoralising.
What are the challenges faced by police when dealing with crimes against women?
Firstly, the girl who lodges the complaint will end up marrying the offender. For instance, in Thanjavur, we had 18 rape cases of which 16 were related to the elopement of minors. Parents of the girls also aren't interested in pursuing the cases, in fact, they only arrange their marriage with the offenders in most cases. Also, in cases of rape, getting DNA and fingerprint reports from the forensic department might take time.
Women often face harassment at MRTS stations and other public spaces. How is the department handling it?
Police maintain a reserve at the stations along with railway police and mobile patrolling. Police patrol has increased drastically and there is a massive police presence at night.
We deploy eight companies of police patrol as part of 85 different teams across the city, i.e., around 1,600 personnel on alert during nights alone. This is one reason there has been relative peace in the past eight months (chuckles).
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Has police response to control room complaints taken a hit?
Almost all complaints that reach the control room are directed to the concerned patrol police. Pink Patrols are very active and have a record of very less response time. In some cases, callers don’t want to see a patrol vehicle in front of their house and prefer visiting a police station.
If the caller doesn’t want her neighbours to know about the issue, women police visit their house in civil dress. Women officers in civic clothes park the patrol vehicles far away and visit the victims like a relative.
Hesitancy on part of victims is widespread. How are you planning to tackle this?
Most of the women who come forward to complain about the accused are in the 16-20 age group. We recently arrested private teachers and coaches and even a spiritual guru. Now, the number of women coming forward to complain has increased, which means faith in police has grown.
There has been a 20-25 per cent increase in the registration of cases. Thanks to immediate arrests, even reluctant parents are coming forward.
Nirbhaya Fund, exclusively allotted for crimes against women, is often underutilised. How has the spending been over the past year?
We have purchased CCTVs, 204 motorbikes, and 44 four-wheelers for the districts headed by SPs.
Apart from installing CCTVs, what steps are being taken to prevent crimes against women?
To give confidence to women and ensure they come to us in case of a crime, Kaavalan SOS app was launched. The app is now getting an updated version, in which the location of the caller can be tracked. Also, 1091 helpline is being popularised. Apart from this, we have created a separate department for crime against women. It monitors complaints only pertaining to women.
Are police officers being sensitised on handling crime-against-women cases?
We had studied such crimes and issued a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) a month ago. Our primary objective is to record all crimes and ensure the offender is prosecuted. One of the serious allegations against police is that they let offenders evade the law.
So, we have organised numerous seminars and also issued an SOP on what the investigating officer should do, the evidence they must look for, how to analyse, and the duration for filing charge sheets. Quick and immediate justice is the main focus.
How is the department spreading awareness on women's safety?
We are creating awareness videos, so women know they can give a complaint even if the offender is from their own family or that they cannot be married off before they turn 18. We even held a competition and gave cash awards and other incentives to personnel who created the best videos.
How are civilians included in the whole process?
Ultimately, we are also in constant touch with women's rights activists and NGOs. We have monthly meetings with them to discuss ongoing and new cases. Over the past 10 months, we have developed synergy due to coordinated efforts to deal with crime against women.