Harassed women approaching AWPS go back disappointed
Victims of harassment hesitate to register complaints at Bengaluru’s All Women Police Stations (AWPS), saying it is useless visiting them.
The city has two AWPS: the Shivajinagar Women Police Station and Banashankari Women Police Station in Basavanagudi.
Anjali Nayak (name changed), a resident of J.P Nagar who had approached an NGO for legal assistance said that filing a complaint at the AWPS did not help her.
Anjali was harassed by her husband and his siblings. “I got married in 2009 against the wishes of my family. Everything was going fine until 2016.My husband, who works in Dubai, used to send money every month for me and his parents. I was working too, but I had to quit my job in 2011 when our son was born. Owing to this, I became financially dependent on him. The worst happened when I got to know that he was having an affair with a woman in his company. Whenever I questioned him about the affair, he started beating me (she pointed at scars on her hands). His siblings, too, were involved in harassing me. He was not willing to give me divorce, fearing (he would have) to pay for me and my child.”
She approached the AWPS, where they asked her to get counselling and settle the matter.
“The officer was not even interested in dealing with my case as my husband and his partner, who belonged to the ST category were backed by an NGO dealing with tribal rights. I found a job eventually.There (at the workplace) I am a topic of discussion because of the ongoing case. Even some of my relatives blame me saying that I married against family’s wishes,” Anjali said.
Advocate Saith CV said: “Lack of support from family and society can make a woman helpless. She has no other option but to stick to a relationship. The purpose of all- women police stations is to provide a safe environment to women complainants. They might feel uncomfortable sharing their complaints about harassment and abuse with male police officers. Unfortunately, the women police stations have very few women officers.”
Priya Patil (name changed), a fashion designer, said: “I have faced sexual harassment at the workplace, but I will not approach a women’s police station because I feel they will not do anything.”
Advocate Alagammai T said: “Women fear to register complaints against the perpetrator fearing that it would tarnish her image at the workplace. Also, in many cases, the victim is held responsible. People make her feel as if she has committed some crime. They say ‘she might have done something’. Also, she thinks and worries about her future at the workplace.”
Prasheela BS, sub-inspector of the Banashankari Women‘s Police Station, said: “In my experience, women do not hesitate or fear to file complaints. In cases like domestic violence, many decide not to proceed with the case as relatives interfere and try to solve the matter for them.”
Most cases filed at police stations are under Section 498A cases where the accused are the husband and in-laws. Several cases are settled after counselling, the sub-inspector shared.
In 2021,The Wire published an article that stated that most under-reporting of domestic violence cases happened in Bihar, Karnataka and Manipur. The prevalence of domestic violence is around 40% while the reporting is less than 8%.