To support the ongoing protests in Delhi over the gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in a moving bus on December 16, Puneites have been holding candlelight marches and demonstrations at various places in the city for the last couple of days.
As voices are raised about the national capital being unsafe for woman, MiD DAY spoke to social activists and young people to get their views about the situation here in the city. The activists and the youth said that though the city was relatively safe when compared to other places in the country, police presence on the streets should be higher than what it is now and crimes against women, however minor, should be dealt with a stern hand.
President of All India Democratic Women’s Association Kiran Moghe claimed that saying only Delhi was unsafe and other places like the city were safe would be a baseless statement. Moghe said rape cases going unreported was the likely explanation for the crime rate against women not being as high in the city as Delhi.
“Previously, Pune was safe, but considering the recent incidents of rape, sexual abuse of children and the attack on a girl over one-sided love, it would be an exaggeration to call Pune a safe city,” Moghe said.
Moghe said that instead of making changes in the law, the efforts should be geared towards stopping such incidents. Women’s activist and Advocate Aruna Nafaday stated that along with police visibility on road, the role of lawyers was also important while dealing with cases of crimes against women.
“Previously, the vigilance and police visibility was higher in Pune,” Nafaday said. “Now as the city is spreading tremendously and the police force is relatively low, their (police) visibility is also becoming lesser day by day. Besides, the police should be more responsive to these issues, because the case becomes strong if a strong chargesheet is filed.”
Social activist Sanyogita Dhemdhere stated that the city was relatively safer than Delhi when it came to crimes against women. “Women’s education and active participation in the various movements in Pune is comparatively more than any other city; similarly, people are more sensitive towards such issues, so that could be the reason the rate of crime against women is lower than in Delhi,” Dhamdhere said.
Young people also reacted sharply on the issue of insufficient safety measures for women and said that the city, which had always been considered safe, was no more a secure place for women at nights. Tanvay Kshatriya said that when they were with girls in their group, he and his other friends were worried about their safety.
“We feel responsible for their safety and have to take precautions while hanging out with friends,” he said. “We can say that Pune is safe, but still appropriate security measures are absent from the city.”
Financial Analyst Rani Taruvakaran said although the was relatively safer than other metros, sexual harassment was a common occurrence and such cases were increasing by the day. “I feel that a man passing indecent remarks or making lewd gestures at a woman or girl is tomorrow’s rapist,” Taruvakaran said.
Anjali Patil said that though law and order was much better in the city than elsewhere, prevention was always better than cure and that is why a rally was organised to spread awareness about women’s safety, particularly after the Delhi gang rape incident.
(With inputs from Namrata Devikar)