A look at how the state has tackled crimes against women – India News, Firstpost

On Monday, the UP government released a full-page ad, listing steps the state is taking to improve women’s safety

On Monday, the government of Uttar Pradesh published a full-page advertisement on the front page of several editions of Hindustan time, listing the measures taken by the State to improve the safety of women. Titled “Women’s Empowerment”, the announcement – which appeared in the Delhi, Gurugram, Jaipur, Lucknow and Noida editions of the national daily – lists 26 “separate government policies and programs for the welfare of women” that are currently in vigor.

It comes just weeks after Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a ruling BJP MP, was caught up in controversy after being accused of raping a minor in 2017. The four-time lawmaker and his brothers allegedly gang-raped the girl in Unnao – who attempted suicide outside the chief minister’s residence in Lucknow – and were also charged with the death in custody of the victim’s father. The arrests in this case only came after national outrage and protests demanding justice for the survivor.

“The government of Uttar Pradesh, under the leadership of Yogi Adityanath, showed its commitment to the safety and welfare of women in the state from day one of taking office last year… The government has strictly followed the policy of zero tolerance against crime without interference in the operation of the police, ensuring the rule of law in the state,” the announcement read.

However, reports from last year reveal that crimes against women were rampant even in the months following the change of government. During the first two months of the new government, more than 800 incidents of rape have been reported. “Between March 15 and May 9, 729 murders, 803 rapes, 799 lootings, 2,682 kidnappings and 60 Dacoists took place,” said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Kumar Khanna.

File image of Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath. Reuters

Of gang rape of a dalit woman at gunpoint just days after the government was sworn in in March and kidnapping and rape of a minor in April to rape of a woman in a vehicle in May and the rape and murder of a minor in Aligarh in June last year, crimes against women in Uttar Pradesh have made national headlines every month since the BJP government took office.

The previous administration’s numbers, however, were no better. Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of crimes against women in 2016, according to data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). The state recorded 14.5% (49,262 cases) of the total number of cases of crimes against women that year and 20,000 cases of rape involving minors.

Monday’s announcement also boasted of BJP government branding schemes, such as Anti Romeo Squads. “At its first cabinet meeting, the Anti-Romeo Squad was formed to monitor and prevent harassment and even teasing from girls,” it says. The brigades, made up of plainclothes and uniformed police, were set up in March 2017 to protect women from sexual harassment in public places.

With six cases recorded every day on average and 3,003 people involved over a nine-month period in 1,706 incidents, Uttar Pradesh’s anti-Romeo squads are considered one of the government’s greatest achievements, as The Indian Express highlighted in a January report. Anti-Romeo squads also issued warnings to at least 9.33 lakh people and “inspected” more than 21 lakh people in nearly eight lakh visits up to Republic Day 2018.

But barely a month after the program was launched, these teams reportedly suddenly disappeared from parts of the state. “The anti-Romeo squads disappeared within less than a month of its launch. Travel in the region became difficult,” India time cited residents of Baghpat district in Uttar Pradesh. “It becomes really difficult for girls to cross the road and enter the colleges. There is no security. The anti-Romeo squad is only on paper.”

On the other hand, several women’s rights activists – including human rights lawyers Indira Jaising and Vrinda Grover, and women’s rights activists Aruna Roy, Kavita Krishnan and Kamla Bhasin – claim that these groups should be dissolved because their tough tactics and the moral police let people insecure and fearful.

The announcement also spoke of the “women’s helpline 181”, which it said has grown stronger and is now equipped to tackle crime, “particularly domestic violence”. one december report revealed that Uttar Pradesh recorded 1,99,464 cases related to harassment and violence against women on the UP police hotline in 11 months. The helpline also succeeded in resolving 95% of cases during this period, according to the report.

The ad goes on to mention the government’s efforts to prevent prenatal sex determination and promote girls’ education, among other things.

Mara R. Wilmoth