January 28: A young girl harassed near a private coaching institute in Patna. Criminals were allegedly drunk
January 30: Two criminals on motorcycle passed lewd comments at two women, who went for shopping, at Bailey Road
Women in Patna are living under constant fear because of increasing incidents of harassment.
Two recent cases of eve-teasing have put a question mark on the law and order situation in Patna and the ability of police to instil a sense of security among women.
“There are pockets where the situation is very bad. One does not feel safe walking alone on the roads during the day or in the evening,” said Hemlata, a college student.
A girl from Gardanibagh said cases of molestation are rampant in the city because people hardly fear the police.
“Once I was returning home in an autorickshaw after a coaching class in the evening, a man sitting beside me brushed his elbow on me. I first thought it was by mistake. When he did it twice, I saw that he was smiling. I was too horrified to say anything. I asked the autorickshaw driver to stop and preferred to walk to my destination,” said.
The 21-year-old asked: “When can a man smile after committing a crime? Only when he is not afraid of the law.”
Police, however, appear helpless when it comes to handling such cases. Patna senior superintendent of police Manu Maharaaj said: “We try our best to nab eve-teasers. Strict action would be taken against those found guilty. Women constables have been deputed to monitor colleges and schools to safeguard girls from stalkers.”
He added: “Crime against women has been on the rise because of change in mindset of people. Our society is getting complex. The police alone can’t change the mindset.”
Only recently, walking alone even during the day for women irrespective of she being a college student, a working woman, a homemaker or an elderly, has become dangerous.
A resident of Ashiana Nagar said: “Every morning around eight, I go to the park for a walk. I have been noticing that in the last three-four days, a boy has been stalking me from the park to my residence. First I got scared. But then I gained courage to raise my voice because everyday I hear stories about eve-teasing, acid attacks and rapes.”
Some also attribute the rising incidents of eve-teasing to the influence of films.
“We often see in films that to woo the heroine, the hero teases her. In the same way, youths too endeavour to impress women. But in reality, it looks cheap when men start stalking women,” said Saima Doja, a student of Buddha Institute of Dental Sciences.
The old rule “better safe than sorry” still remains the thumb rule for most women.
Preeti Kumari, a student of Patna Women’s College, said: “It is unfortunate that we live in such a world where women cannot walk home alone. But I suppose it is best to be safe than sorry. So, I never walk alone.”