Rapists have proved more daring than rebels in Bokaro in 2012, but the district’s women are finally breaking shackles of social stigma and speaking up.
The district that saw only four Maoist-related activities this year compared to 24 in 2011, saw a spurt in rapes, eve-teasing, groping as well as sleaze-text and virtual harassment, but the silver lining was the fact that more women lodged police complaints.
Till November 2012, 44 cases of rape and physical assault and 67 cases of eve teasing have been recorded officially. Most rapes occurred between March and August as well as in October.
These are not exhaustive figures. December rapes, unofficially five but not yet compiled, will push up the numbers. Also, sexual assault on women in Nawadih, Gomia, Chandankyari, Kasmar, Petarwar and Chandrapura normally don’t reach police files as they are tackled by village panchayats.
In 2011, the total rape figure in Bokaro stood at 46.
But disturbing figures are also empowering in one sense. Police point out that women are coming to lodge complaints against attackers and tormentors. They also prove that Bokaro mahila police thana has won the confidence of girls, women and their guardians both in the cities and outskirts. Many, who can’t muster confidence to go to the mahila police station, call up the number and complain.
On an average, three to five girls call up mahila thana every day. What’s more, one or two women are coming every month personally.
Officer in charge of the women’s thana, Pushplata said the phone number 06542-220016 was proving to be of great help. “Often teens call us on this number to complain that they are being teased, threatened or are getting lewd phone calls and text messages (SMSes). We assure girls that their identity would be confidential while taking urgent action against the perpetrators,” Pushplata said.
She added their biggest win was the fact that the girls “trust us and are fearless about contacting us”.
“Earlier, girls thought reporting sexual harassment was a matter of shame for them and their families. Now, they know that if they keep quiet, it encourages the tormentors. So they speak up,” she said.
Bokaro SP Kuldeep Dwivedi said time and again phone numbers of police stations and officers-in-charge were flashed publicly.
“I request everyone to come forward and check the menace of eve-teasing. Once a complaint is lodged, if no action is taken, the matter must be reported to me. Then, if I find that police personnel have not taken up the matter seriously, I will take action against them,” he said.
Police say Bokaro city and Chas satellite township are more or less safe but the problem intensifies in the interiors of Bermo, Kasmar, Gomia, Nawadih blocks.