M3 Features

Making Bengal safer for women

September 20, 2013

With the cases of crimes against women going up, the need for more security for women is even more acutely felt. Towards this end, the West Bengal government has come up with a number of projects.

Kolkata Police has come up with a project called Atma Raksha. As the name suggests, it involves training in self-defence. Girls from various schools will undergo month-long training in various forms of martial arts like judo, taekwondo, judo, karate, boxing and wrestling.

Next up is a 24-hour support centre, to be located at Tollygunge police station. To be manned by a woman assistant commissioner of police and 12 junior-level officers under her, the helpline would provide assistance to women who have been victims of sexual harassment.

Another upcoming project is a GPS-based helpline. Thanks to this tool, women can reach the police much faster than dialling a number. The futuristic plan is to have a dedicated button on the phone, by pressing which the person can immediately send an SOS to the nearest police station. This would be immensely useful as the person may not have the time to dial a helpline number and talk to a person, when in distress.

Police patrolling on motorbikes would also be increased in the city. Motorcycle-mounted policemen would be on standby at locations all over the city. This would enable the police to reach the scene of crime faster upon receiving a complaint. Locations which have been identified for setting up kiosks for this project include the airport, EM Bypass (near Science City), Esplanade, Free School Street, Howrah and Sealdah stations, Kalighat temple, Maidan (near Victoria Memorial), Park Street and Sudder Street.

The government is also going to implement a proposal from the West Bengal Department of Tourism - tourist police. A similar system exists in Delhi, and the tourism minister, Chiranjeevi had urged states at a recent conference of states’ tourism ministers to take up the project in all earnestness. The Union government will be providing 75% of the funds for setting up this special force. Police personnel in this force would advice tourists on how to stay safe in the city. To interact with foreigners better, they would be given lessons in spoken English. They would regularly interact with hotel and lodge owners, tour operators and taxi drivers to sensitise them about issues faced by tourists. They will also maintain a list of hotels and lodges.

These new initiatives would be a welcome relief for women. It must be mentioned that last October, Kolkata Police had come up with two helplines exclusively for women in distress. If anyone calls or sends an SMS to 1091 or 8017100100, police will swing into action immediately.

The police is leaving stone unturned to make the state safe for women and deal with the aftermath of any crime against women. More and more women are coming forward to report crimes against them, which is definitely a significant development.

One hopes these initiatives would provide women in the city with a shield to fall back on in case of any danger.

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