Kiran Bedi and Women's Safety

It hasn't been declared yet (at the time of writing this) whether the former super cop Kiran Bedi is going to be declared a Chief Minister candidate or not by the BJP but the way she has been addressing the media and giving statements it is pretty clear that she knows what she's talking about.

With the speculations over her Chiefministership more or less settled, she's constantly saying that women's safety in the National Capital is going to be her priority number one. Delhi has had a woman Chief Minister for 15 years and one would think that who would understand the problems women face on a day to day basis but a woman Chief Minister?

But most of our politicians are either corrupt to the core or they have spent their lives living in the cushioned ivory towers, especially the politicians from the Congress party. So it wasn't a surprise that the situation in Delhi for women turned from bad to worse during Sheila Dikshit's tenure.

Kiran Bedi says that she has a 6-P formula to make the Capital safe and secure for the women: the first P is for the parents, principles and the community leaders, the second P is for politicians because they are the ones who make rules and have the resources, the third P is the police which is responsible for prevention of crimes against women, the fourth P is prosecution which means the culprits actually get nabbed and imprisoned, the fifth P is prison because this is where criminals can be 'reformed' rather than confined and punished and the sixth P is the 'Press' which is responsible for raising awareness and covering the events.

The 6-P formula isn't something new that she has suddenly woken up to after being wooed by the BJP. She has been talking about the concept for the past couple of years. According to a 2010 survey (before the Nirbhaya outrage) 80 per cent women in Delhi said that they felt unsafe in the National Capital. Even the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics cited that despite the claims by the Police that over 90 per cent of the cases are solved, there are 40 cases of crimes against women in Delhi every day. Rape, molestation and sexual harassment in public are among the highest instances of crimes against women. It is a shocking revelation that, especially after the brutal rape and murder of the 23 years old physiotherapist on 16 December 2012, the increase in crimes against women has been almost 35 per cent!

Police's own records revealed that there had been a 100 per cent increase in the number of crime cases between December 2013 and December 2014. At least five women are raped and molested in Delhi every day, according to the official police statistics. These are police statistics. These are the instances of crimes that are, maybe registered or reported, or noticed by the police. There might be two times more, or three times more cases of such incidents that go totally unreported.

It's actually alarming that when the number of crimes against women should have decreased after the outrage, it has increased. What does it tell about not just our Government, but also the public?

With the new Government though, things have been gradually improving. In fact, this was the first New Year after many years when no major incident of harassment, abduction or rape happened in or around the Capital, otherwise you would always come to know about one or another ghastly incident after the New Year eve. People witnessed unprecedented security on the roads.

As the first woman IPS officer of the country Kiran Bedi must have had her fair share of experiences dealing with various shades of sexual biases not just in the rank and file of her workplace, but also while dealing with the various elements of society. Unlike Sheila Dikshit, Kiran Bedi has reached this position working her way through the labyrinth of bureaucracy, an active public life and a career replete with nerve wrecking challenges. She was constantly transferred due to her uncompromising stand.

Sheila Dikshit on the other hand rose in the annals of power merely because her family had connection and after that she mastered the art of sycophancy that is a must in the Congress. So, she couldn't care less about how many women were being abducted in broad daylight or how many professionals were being shot merely for doing their job. When Soumya Vishwanathan was shot dead while returning from her work at 3 in the morning, Sheila Dikshit’s immediate response was, 'If she (Soumya Vishwanathan) was out at 3 am, she was being too adventurous.' So you can very well imagine what sort of attitude she had towards women who have to bear the ignominy of being constantly touched, jeered at, remarked upon, stalked, and worse, abducted and raped. She and her immediate family members enjoy round the clock security and they don't even have to travel in buses, taxis and autos; she can hardly relate to the common womenfolk forced to tread upon the unsafe paths of the Capital.

There are 13 million voters in Delhi and 44.51 per cent of them are women. According to a survey jointly conducted by the India Today Group and Cicero, at least 20 per cent of the people who participated in the survey think that safety of women is the most important issue followed by 17 per cent who feel that corruption is the main issue. While placing women's safety as the most important issue first in her list of priorities (provided she becomes the Chief Minister) she has placed corruption is the seventh most important issue. Corruption could be low on her list of priorities due to two reasons: Kejriwal has totally sullied the cause of corruption by constantly lying and indulging in annoying antics rather than working on real world problems, and, if reforms are introduced and the needed technologies are incorporated, most of the corruption is automatically taken care of.

By putting stress on women's safety as number one priority Kiran Bedi has shown that as a woman herself she is more sensitive towards this pressing issue. Also, with such a big chunk of women voting, it makes sense to target the section of the society that is not just vulnerable but can also be a deciding factor.

Courtesy Niti Central



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