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Change in attitude key to safety: Bedi

“This is no country for women,” declared top-cop-turned-social activist Kiran Bedi at an interactive session on Mandating Women Security at The Oberoi Grand on Tuesday. But the iron lady was not just being preachy, she also shared a six-point plan of action to bring about change.

Standing tall on the podium, elevated at her request so that she had “eye contact with all”, Bedi began her address at the programme presented by the MCC Chamber of Commerce and Industry and MCCI Ladies Forum by rattling off some shocking statistics — 77 per cent of harassed women in India never report the crime, 40 per cent have faced harassment at work at some point and only one in 10 women inherit land but most don’t have papers, around 23 dowry deaths are reported every day, there are 40 per cent child brides in India and three-fourth of all rape accused go scot-free.

A strong advocate of crime prevention, Bedi said the Nirbhaya and Shakti Mill rapes could have been prevented had society functioned differently. She proposed a six-point crime prevention plan involving six groups. “Only law cannot bring order. Society and its mindset also need to change,” she said.

The first group that needs to be sensitised about equality, according to Bedi, includes parents, principals and panchayats. The next group comprising politicians should act as messengers of rights and enhanced security, according to Bedi. “They should work for a safer constituency round the year and not just during poll time,” she said.

Police, the third group, should be prompt and keep track of repeat offenders. Bedi cited the Nirbhaya case, where “the response from this group came late” and the Shakti Mills case, in which the offenders were repeat criminals.

The fourth group is the prosecution. “Courts have a duty to perform faster. We require thousands of fast-track courts. The new government should set aside a part of their budget for this,” Bedi said.

Prisons and the press are the fifth and sixth groups respectively and both are equally responsible in preventing crime. “If proper reform measures, counselling and sensitisation programmes are not followed in prisons, they are of no use,” she said, adding the role of the press should include educating women on existing laws.

The audience were quick to add a seventh P to her list — physical training for girls.

“We should open up the system. We need a hub that brings these 6 Ps together. And the 6 Ps need to have a proper plan of action and maybe students or professionals to audit their action. This country needs a revolution if it is to become liveable,” said Bedi, adding that she has already discussed her ideas with Narendra Modi who was very receptive about them.

6 Ps for prevention of crime

  • Parents, principals and panchayats to start initial sensitisation
  • Politicians to be real messengers of rights
  • Police to be more prompt
  • Prosecution should be faster
  • Prisons to conduct proper counselling programme
  • Press to spread awareness about laws