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Take FIRs, NGO tells cops

- Police ignore leering, stalking complaints: Activists

Guwahati, Nov. 22: Social activists have claimed that police need to register FIRs even in cases of eve-teasing and leering, in order to discourage rising crimes against women. The victim, too, needs to approach the police in such cases to avert bigger crimes.

Though the police do register complaints in cases of molestation, rape and assault, there have been instances where they do not take complaints of eve-teasing, stalking or leering by victims seriously.

On the other hand, many victims do not go to the police for help when they are harassed because of fear of retaliation on the part of the men who harass them.

Take the case of Rumi Sarma (name changed) and Bijoya Chetia (name changed), both college-goers who stay in a private girls’ hostel in the city.

One particular evening when both girls had gone for a stroll in the neighbourhood, a biker suddenly passed by and groped one of the girls. But the miscreant fled before the girls could raise an alarm.

The girls dialled helpline 100 to report the matter to the police. The person on the other end asked them to register a complaint at the nearest police station.

However, when they approached the police to file a complaint, the police official there refused to file an FIR citing that “they were just touched” and nothing serious had happened. Shocked at the response of the police, these girls shared their experience with a local NGO.

According to a recent survey conducted by North East network, an NGO, 72.5 per cent of women in the city have experienced sexual harassment and violence in some form in public places and 71.4 per cent felt unsafe just for being women.

Moreover, 48.6 per cent of incidents of sexual harassment or violence occurred on the roadside, 38.6 per cent while using public modes of transport, 27.5 per cent while waiting for public transport, 38.5 per cent at the market place, 3.9 per cent at the park, 2 per cent in public toilets and 1.9 in other public places.

“The problem is that the police still do not take instances of teasing, leering and stalking seriously. It is very important to book people who stalk or tease women repeatedly, as the victim has to face harassment in such a manner. Many women even give up travelling by a particular route when they are repeatedly subjected to such harassment. If the police file an FIR and take stern action against the accused, it will help in averting bigger crimes. When such crimes are ignored, the men who perpetuate them get the chance to commit even bigger crimes against women,” said Sheetal Sarma, an activist.

On the other hand, there are victims like Sunaina Singh (name changed) who repeatedly have to face boys passing lewd remarks at them. But she does not know whom to approach for help.

“The problem with many victims is that they do not know how and whom to approach for help. They also fear reporting the matter thinking that the perpetuators will retaliate by harming them in the future,” said Sarma.

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