No safety for women, kids in resettlement sites in Chennai, violence up in last 7 years, says report

Several women also pointed out that they are unable to register a complaint as the police officials have ‘normalised’ domestic abuse.
Representative Image.
Representative Image. (Photo| PTI)

CHENNAI: Safety concerns in resettlement sites in the city, including Perumbakkam, continue to make the lives of thousands of women and children difficult. Advocate commissioner K Elango who was appointed by the Madras High Court to file a fresh report on resettlement sites in the city, said in his interim report on June 11 that women’s safety was a concern in Perumbakkam with several women complaining of being harassed frequently.

The report also said violence against women has increased in the last seven years.

Elango had filed the first report on problems in resettlement sites in 2018 following which a police station was set up at Perumbakkam. However, the station lacked adequate personnel, the interim report said.

“The sanctioned strength of this station is 76, but the present strength is only 50. After deputing policemen for security, court work etc, only 20 policemen are available for effective discharge of duty. Therefore, the presence of policemen is not visible in the area,” the report stated.

Drugs are easily available in the tenements, reaching even school-going children, the advocate commissioner said in the report, adding women had complained to him that they are not letting girl children play outside - in the children’s park or outside the tenements due to the lack of safety.

Elango said the final report would be prepared in three weeks and that he was filing an interim report since there were immediate concerns for resettled families.

The report is in line with another recent report that mapped safety and infrastructure in the resettlement sites of Kannagi Nagar, Semmenchery and Perumbakkam by the Information & Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities earlier this week.

For women who are employed, apart from increased travel time and expenditure, lack of safety in the settlement adds to their burden. Several women also pointed out that they are unable to register a complaint as the police officials have ‘normalised’ domestic abuse.

The report also highlighted the prevalence of several dark and unsafe spots in the settlements and instances of stalking, waylaying, robbery and attempted abduction are concerns. The dark, lonely roads, without streetlights or without the presence of vendors are the most unsafe areas inside the settlements. Incidents of girls hesitating to go to school fearing verbal abuse and harassment on the way to school were also reported.

“Addressing the concerns of women and other vulnerable groups in the settlement involves a combination of improving actual safety measures with the support of the police department. It should also deal with the underlying factors that contribute to people feeling unsafe using synergistic action between different line departments,” the report said.

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The New Indian Express