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In its recent efforts to curb the rising crime against women in the city and ensure the timely address of the complaint, the Hyderabad Police has launched an initiative under which women can lodge complaints through Whatsapp audio and video calls.
According to The New Indian Express, the police department launched the pilot project where women need not physically visit the police stations to lodge complaints.
The move is reportedly aimed at reaching out to more women and ensuring a hassle-free service to them which would aid in making the city safer for them
"In many cases, we witness that crimes, especially against women, do not get reported as not all women can come to the police stations to file their complaints. This could be due to multiple reasons, including household restrictions, or them not knowing which police station they should go to, or sometimes, they are just scared to go to a police station. The new people-friendly initiative will help them to lodge complaints without any hassle," said DIG, Women Safety Wing, B Sumathi.
Speaking about the complaint-filing procedure, the officer said that any complaints jeopardising the safety and security of women — eve-teasing, stalking, cyberstalking and harassment can be registered through the state's SHE-Team contact number. Once the complaint is filed through the call, a text message will be sent to the complainant confirming that her issue has been recorded. Additionally, a message will also be sent to the concerned Station House Officer (SHO) about details of the complaint.
"Based on the gravity of the crime, the victim can decide to file an FIR," added the official.
She further informed that the initiative has been currently launched on a test basis and initially the department would accept complaints on audio calls and eventually, in the next few weeks, complaints through video calls would also be accepted. The department has decided to go a step further in addressing the root-cause and plans to offer counselling sessions to the victims.
"After a complaint is lodged, we will immediately direct them to our counsellors, who will provide them with telephonic or video counselling," officer Sumathi said.
There was a 7.3 per cent rise in the crimes against women from 2018 to 2019, according to the data released by the National Crime Records Bureau's 'Crime in India' 2019 report.
"A total of 4,05,861 cases of crime against women were registered during 2019, showing an increase of 7.3% over 2018 (3,78,236 cases). Majority of cases under crime against women under IPC were registered under 'cruelty by husband or his relatives' (30.9 per cent), followed by 'assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty' (21.8 per cent), 'kidnapping & abduction of women' (17.9 per cent) and 'rape' (7.9 per cent). The crime rate registered per lakh women population is 62.4 in 2019 in comparison with 58.8 in 2018," stated the NCRB report.
The NCRB data is the only comprehensive source of information on crimes across the country. It is prepared based on administrative sources or police records and has extensive data on different categories of crimes against women. However, in an absence of an alternative source, chances of underreporting of such incidents increase manifold.
A 2018 study conducted by Livemint found that as many as 99.1 per cent of the cases of sexual violence against women are not reported, and in most instances, the perpetrator turns out to be the husband of the victim. The study further pointed out that an average Indian woman is 17 times more likely to face sexual violence from her husband than from others.
Telangana's Mahbubnagar district's Superintendent of Police, Rema Rajeshwari, had set up a "Mobile Safety" vehicle to help domestic abuse victims amid the coronavirus lockdown.
The official opened up about the incident in August 2020, that led her to launch the safety vans. While speaking to the Humans of Bombay, the officer said that a woman's call from Kanpur triggered the initiative. Recalling the incident, SP Rajeshwari said that a woman telephoned to report that her sister had not called her for three days and also revealed that her sister's husband would hit her, and she was worried about it.
"We sent a dispatch team and found her in such a terrible condition, it shook me," said the SP. "She was badly bruised, hadn't had a single drop of water in three days and was writhing in pain."
"That incident was an eye-opener - there were so many victims of domestic violence living with their abusers and they couldn't even file a complaint!" she exclaimed.
Understanding the severity of the situation where a woman would be locked up with their abusers and might fail to reach out for help, she decided to set up a mobile safety vehicle that would seek out domestic violence survivors instead of waiting for them to approach the police.
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