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'The police need to change their mansikta'

Women in Mumbai have always felt safe in the city and take pride in this fact. However, recent events have put a dent in this notion and compelled everyone to ask: How safe is Mumbai for woman?

We posed this question to Varsha Gaikwad, Minister, Woman and Child Welfare Department of Maharashtra. Her answers did hint that there’s a lot to be done to make Mumbai safe for the fairer sex.


Varsha Gaikwad, Minister, Woman and Child Welfare Department of Maharashtra. Pic/Rane Ashish

Is Mumbai safe for women?
Taking into account the rise in the number of cases of crime against women, I and a few other women MLAs took the issue to the assembly. We asked the Home Minister about his department’s plan to tackle the issue and stop the crimes against women.  We told the Home Minister that there’s a need for fast track courts that will mete out justice within six months. If the cases are tried under fast track courts, the belief that, criminals are being punished will invoke a sense of justice. The Home Minister assured us that wherever the permission of central government is needed he shall talk to the Centre. After meeting with the Chief Minister we urged him to look into this matter too.  I believe that a woman remains a wife for a very little time, but a mother for the longest period. All women should be treated as mothers and should be respected. This change in mentality is needed.

On Saturday, a girl was stabbed by her classmate in Bandra; last month a female student was stabbed by a farmer in Dadar and recently a college girl was attacked by her classmate in Parel. How do you plan to curb these incidents? 
Firstly, I have asked the minister concerned to have the police patrol outside colleges on a regular basis. The other important thing is the formation of a women’s welfare cell in every college affiliated to the Mumbai University. The cell will comprise the senior most lady professor of the college who will deal with issues related to any form of abuse towards women. If a serious case is registered, they should directly report it to the state’s women’s development cell. 

The police, at times, is insensitive towards women’s complaints. 
The police need to change their mansikta (mentality). They must be sensitive towards women when they come to register cases of abuse. The Home Minister should be provided with names of errant police officers and he shall take appropriate action.

How does the government support a rape victim?
We, in the state government, are in the planning stages of how we can help a rape victim. We are planning to compensate the victim for her medical expenses, help with her rehabilitation and give her Rs two-three lakh to start afresh.  

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