I Think: Police probes suffer when the media gets involved too soon

Rama Devi, sub-inspector, Bangalore

Photo: Spurthi

I read the newspaper and watch TV news, but being a cop I get most of my information about sexual assaults directly from police complaints.

Sometimes victims are hesitant about going to the police station, so they approach the media first. In such cases, we are sidelined and have to get evidence from news channels and newspapers. This is a problem because a lot of miscommunication can happen around the story — a problem that can be solved by the victim going to the police first.

When the media approaches us, we give only a copy of the FIR. We strongly advise the family of the victim, or the victim herself, not to give interviews to the media, as this creates a chance for the culprit to escape.

Where the media plays a crucial role is in quickening the case. They exert pressure to process the case until completion as quickly as possible.

People often accuse the police of convincing victims to withdraw their cases. This is not true. We as police try to solve the case in favour of the victim, regardless of how powerful the accused is. We don’t step away or get frightened off from collecting evidence even if political connections come into play. We do what we can to help the victim get justice. Even if the victim and accused want to settle the case among themselves after the FIR is filed, it can’t be done until the judicial system intervenes to settle the matter.

Most cases that come under our scrutiny are authentic, but some women do lie that sexual assault happened to them. For example, in some cases we find girls making false allegations against politicians — especially during election time — to put a black mark on his resume. This misuse of the system is wrong.

Sexual assault shouldn’t happen, but the reality is that it does. Therefore, everyone should be educated regarding prevention. These kinds of crimes have increased, but in Karnataka, especially Bangalore, the problem is under control. We are addressing the issue through many awareness programmes in schools, small companies etc. We also have an app called Suraksha that enables women to get help during emergency situations. We get a message and hurry to the spot immediately and help her.

My advice to girls is that they must prioritise their safety by avoiding late nights out as much as possible, or travelling with a trusted person. If attacked when alone, call for help but if nothing works out try to escape rather than fighting the assailants. Also, women should be brave and bring out the injustices that have been done to them.

It is not right to blame just the boys. The fact is, most perpetrators come from very difficult backgrounds. Many of them have never experienced loving relationships and have no idea of the sentiments associated with having a mother, sister, and so on. Thus, they are able to commit these heinous crimes. The solution for this problem could be in raising awareness among socially disadvantaged and deprived boys — teach them why they should not commit such crimes and how to respect women.

Overall, I think the problem is not just with the boy or the girl, but also the society in which they grow up, the way they are brought up, the kinds of things they are exposed to.

Additional inputs: Spurthi V

This is one in a series of articles that NewsTracker published from 25 November to 10 December as part of the #16Days activism, aligned with the UN’s International Day for Ending Violence Against Women. This piece appeared on Day 10.