GURGAON WOMEN POLICE FORCE – A POWER TO BE RECKONED
Gurgaon is considered as the crime capital of the state and the cases of crime against women are on the rise. To get more insight into the matter SUBURB in conversation with ACP Usha Kundu HQ, SHO Garima Devi and Protection Officer Meena Kumari at the Women Police Station, Sector 51. Here we share:
Rapes, Dowry Deaths, Acid Attacks, Domestic Violence…these incidences unfortunately do not bring a wave of shock in us anymore. Have we become acclimated about the gruesome crimes and cases of domestic violence that happen in society? Are we scared of approaching the cops to file a complaint or have we become resilient? In many cases a woman does not for years get to know that she is being mentally and emotionally abused.
As we begin our conversation with the SHO Garima Devi, the first thing she says is that people, in general, must not feel scared of the police. “Until and unless the matter is reported to us we cannot take action. Three Women Police Stations are set up in Gurgaon to look into complaints and take timely action in cases of crime & violence against women. Many times, the complaints come to us in the middle of the night. And I personally take charge of the matters.’’
How does Gurgaon fare in offering security to its women residents and what is the help available to them?
“We realised that women hesitate to go to a normal police station to file a complaint about the same reason in the city of Gurgaon Women Police Stations were formed so that women could come and share their grievances without any hesitation. We receive about 7-8 new complaints every day where most of the cases are of marital disputes. We also offer counselling for couples and families here to facilitate reconciliation between the parties,” shares SHO Garima.
Delving deeper in the cases of marital discord the SHO is very candid, she says, “Even in the cases of marital problems, the young couples do not prefer the interference of their respective parents. On the contrary, while counselling the complainant the couple we prefer the elders of the family to get involved to resolve the dispute and it is absolutely opposite to what it was many years back when the unwanted influence of the parents of the married partners became the cause of their separation,’’ she smiles and continues that’s how is the new age stream of thoughts.
Criminal cases such as rape, eve-teasing, molesting, complaints of stalking on social media are also registered at the women’s police station. For cyberstalking, the team works in tandem with police cyber cell to nab the perpetrators. The police station also has its own specific court and area magistrate where the cases are taken for judicial legalities.
Speaking about the nature of cases and the social strata of the complainants, the Protection Officer cum Child Marriage Prohibition Officer, Meena Kumari handling marital dispute cases tell us, “In Gurgaon, most women are working who enjoy financial independence and are not dependent on their families or husbands for sustenance.”
While honour killing cases and threats are rampant in Haryana, Gurgaon comparatively sees a lower number of such cases. In such instances, the women police team supports the victims who registers a complaint fearing safety to their life and counsels the family. Her safety is of utmost responsibility and the police team also approaches the magistrate for protection cover. There is also a shelter home in Bhandwari where victims can seek shelter to keep herself safe.
“As per Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, complaint cases in a marriage of fewer than seven years get registered “We hold various awareness drives in schools and colleges and facilitate self- defence training to young girls and women to equip them with basic safety measures. While cases of domestic violence have always existed, it is now that more women are opening up and raising their voice on the issue,” says ACP Usha Kundu
“I personally very strongly stand for the rights of women. I come from a humble family where I have seen gender inequality very closely and it has moved me tremendously. At the impressionable young age, I had decided to stand for my rights and for fellow women. That’s one of the prime reasons and the driving force that I entered the civil services.’’ – ACP Usha.
Women who cannot afford a lawyer, we support them with legal aid. The court and the district legal aid authority further helps them with an advocate to fight their case. In cases where the couple has reconciled and the husband or family agrees to not indulge in any domestic discord, we ask the couple to visit the police station on regular intervals so we could keep a check on them,” adds SHO Garima.
Now days, women are well-educated, self- reliant and refuse to tolerate the situation which is not conducive to them. The divorce cases are higher and women are confident to move forward after getting separated from their partner. Separation or divorce is no more a taboo. Even if families want reconciliation, the woman is adamant to not continue. There is a growing trend of matrimony disputes and also increasing cases where marriages are breaking up because of extra-marital relationships. Extra usage of mobile phone and other social media tools has increasingly become the cause of marital discords. With the advent of the Domestic Violence Act 2006, the Act provides for the first time in Indian law a definition of “domestic violence”, with this definition being broad and including not only physical violencebut also other forms of violence such as emotional/verbal, sexual, and economic abuse,’’ shares ACP, Usha Kundu.
Interestingly, breaking the belief, Team SUBURB got to know that the cases of domestic violence reported from the lower social strata are much less than cases coming to the police station from the upper-middle class and upper-class families. “The women from lower strata are mostly daily wage earners who cannot afford to miss work or spend money coming to the police the station, most often it is seen that these women are street smart and usually capable of handling marital disputes at their personal level. The reporting of domestic violence is much higher in the upper segment of the society,’’ says SHO Garima.
Right to Residence
Right to the residence is another important aspect of the cases that the police station handles. In case if the woman is prohibited from living in the house or is asked to leave by the in-laws or husband, then their application is also processed at the women’s police station. “It is a woman’s right to stay at her wedded house until legal notices are issued by the higher authorities. Some cases are often sorted at the police station itself, while some go on to get settled at the counselling stage or in the initial or later stages of court proceedings. Cases from The State Women commission and National Women Commission are also routed to the women’s police station,’’ adds the Protection Officer Meena Kumari.
Child Marriage & Sexual Harassment at Work
Though the occurrence in Gurgaon is quite low, The Women’s Police Station also deals with child marriage cases. “If there is any intimation or call for help by the victim, the team rushes to the spot and conducts complete verification of the documents,” says Meena Kumari who has been associated with the police station for five years and handles the cases related to domestic violence.
With the increased involvement of women employees in the corporate sector, there is also a spurt of workplace-related complaints filed by women and women police stations handle the same.
“It is mandatory in corporate organisations to have an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) which involve a legal head, at least two women members and an NGO representative to look into such cases filed by women employees. If the woman is not happy with the internal committee’s verdict, they approach us and we partake thorough investigation in sexual harassment cases at the workplace. All files, documents, internal communication is well studied to reach a conclusion of the case,” says SHO Garima.
Rape Incidence & Prostitution Rackets
While Delhi is infamous for its high incidence of rape cases, rape complaints in Gurgaon are about 1-2 per cent of the total cases registered. Most of the rape cases reported are often based on false promises of marriage where the woman partner accuses her partner of sexual violation as the promised the marriage didn’t occur.
Sometimes the cops come across instances where women misuse the law and indulge in faulty accusations. While the law is made to protect women and their rights, some perpetrators attempt to take undue advantage of the same.
“If the relationship has been consensual and both the partners willingly agreed to be in it, often in extra-marital arrangements, then the male cannot be rightfully accused of rape. All medical injuries, external marks or physical signs of force are inspected and need to be considered in rape investigation cases,” says Meena.
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012 was established to protect children against offences like sexual abuse, sexual harassment and pornography. The team also looks into the rapes of minors or children and takes strict action against the accused. The Act also makes it mandatory to report such cases.
“Most of the cases reported in child rape are wherein the accused is known to the victim – a neighbour, relative or a known acquaintance to the child or family, most often are responsible for the crime and such cases are mostly reported from the lower marginalised section of the city,” says Meena Kumari.
DURGA SHAKTI APP
To offer security and safety to the women residents of Gurgaon, the Durga Shakti App was commissioned. The App saves the number of your five close aides and at the time of distress, your call for help and location is intimated to these numbers as well as the police!
“Women should not feel scared and in case of any danger or issue, reach to us through the Durga Shakti App,” says Garima. “We advise all women to download the app, save five numbers of your close family and friends and in times of help, the police will also get the message and we can reach you wherever you are. We have two vans commissioned in New Gurgaon wherein two women constables and one driver, as a team is available for your safety. These vans are mostly stationed outside school and colleges.
All women must save helpline numbers 100, 1091 and 1098 on their phone. If at any time in the night if they are unable to arrange transport or not feeling safe to travel with unknown cab drivers when informed, the police PCR will help drop them safely to their location. We want Gurgaon women to feel safe in their city and with women police stations like ours, they can feel free to come to share their problems with us.”
Women Police Stations in Gurgaon
1. Women’s Police Station – Sector 51. One women Police Post under the station to manage South Gurgaon – Badshahpur, Sohna & Sector 65.
2. Women Police Station Manesar
3. Women Police Station in Sector 15 to manage West Zone