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As Yogi Adityanath’s Government completes its first 100 days, let’s have a look at its second most favourite thing after Gau-rakshaks, i.e. Anti-Romeo Squads.
“After the formation of anti-romeo squads, women in the state feel much safer,” UP Chief Minister Adityanath said while speaking about the crime against women in the state.
“Do they, though?” is a question we should ask ourselves and all the women in UP. In the same article by the Times of India, the top comment answers this question quite appropriately: “Women feel safe in UP, because they don’t go out of their homes due to fear of getting harassed by anti-romeo goons.” by someone who called herself Sarcastic Bee.
Ever since their appointment, the anti-romeo squads have been the centre of debates, with people arguing about their purpose: whether they actually protect women or is it just a ploy to harass couples, as it becomes clear from the numerous reports of their goon-ery and violence, and some ridiculous statements about identifying the said ‘romeos’. And now the CM very conveniently blowing his own trumpet speaks volumes about the actual work that is being done under all that noise.
Why is it that the government went in for a measure that aims at such an ambiguous eradication of molesters and perps? How does a said ‘anti-romeo’ distinguish a ‘romeo’ from an ordinary man? Except for the publicity that this move has gained, nothing much has been reported about its effectiveness.
The point to note is, whenever the dial stops at women’s safety there are only big statements made, speeches emphasised and posters stuck behind vehicles, generally before an election. Why we need to have such explicit and additional safety measures for women is a question for another day. What about the things that are already in place but don’t work? For instance, regular police patrols, registering a FIR from a woman without asking her questions about her outfit or about her friends circle or her routine, proper investigation and not assuming that ‘boys will be boys’.
Wouldn’t more than half the problem vanish if the systems in place do their work and not undermine a woman’s statement because she is… drum roll a woman? Governments should focus on first strengthening their basic amenities, rather then go on forming special squads.Do something tangible, make a difference – not do something different to gain praises and publicity. If we need a special force for our protection, tell me, what then is the difference between us and an endangered animal? Not much, I’d say.
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18// New Delhi, India
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