Sir, why give another prejudice to cops?

The Safe City campaign was launched by a group of girls last year, in partnership with Metro, to make public places in Calcutta safer for women by raising awareness and taking the fight to the harassers.

The Safe City girls, outraged by the comments made by the home secretary at Writers’ Buildings on Thursday, wrote the following article for The Telegraph.

On Wednesday morning, we woke up to the horrific news of 16-year-old Rajib Das’s death at the hands of goons while trying to protect his sister, Rinku.

Two days later, we woke up to the horrific comments on the matter by the home secretary of the state.

For those who missed it, the home secretary said: “This woman (Rinku Das) is a divorcee… and she used to return around 11 to 11.30 every night….”

We, the members of the Safe City campaign, are shocked.

Home secretary Sir, how is the boy’s sister being “a divorcee” who “returns home late” relevant to the probe?

How does the girl’s marital status play a role in what happened to her and her brother? Does a girl returning home late from work lose her right to freedom of movement and safety?

Home secretary Sir, does this mean that it is okay for a woman to be molested and her brother to be killed in your state if she is a “divorcee” and “returns around 11 to 11.30 every night”?

This is the prejudice and mindset that we at Safe City are trying to fight, in our own small way.

Every time a woman is harassed or molested on the streets of Calcutta, the first thing that the police and the people seem to do is point a finger at the victim. It must be something that she did wrong: the clothes she wore, the road she took, the way she walked… she must have done something to explain (if not deserve!) what happened to her.

Home secretary Sir, as the head of the police force and the custodian of our safety, what gives you the right to use the words “divorcee” and “return home late” as weapons of morality against any woman?

Isn’t that arming your police force with another prejudice to embarrass and harass the next victim of harassment?

We, from Safe City, demand an explanation from the home secretary about his callous comments — in his position of authority and influence, no public comment can be passed off as a stray comment — that have alarmed and wounded every woman, or rather, every sensitive citizen.

Home secretary G.D. Gautama’s version:

In the past few days, several journalists had asked for information about Rinku. I was flooded with questions on where did she work, why did she come back so late from work, why did her brother go to receive her at the station and why not her husband, etc etc.

I did not have answers to all the questions. Yesterday, I could gather some information
and reeled them off as facts in front of the journalist friends. My reply that she was a divorcee and she used to return late from work was just a statement of fact and I did not mean anything else. It was an attempt on my part to reply to the queries of the journalists, some of whom had earlier asked me why didn’t her husband pick her up from the station.

As a father of two young daughters, I could not have meant any offence to the
girl, who lost her brother in tragic circumstances.

Courtesy:  The Telegraph

Dated on: 19th February,2011.


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