Women in Himachal Pradesh more prone to phone-stalking

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Shimla, Aug 10: The Chandigarh stalking case has put the spotlight on the increasing incidence of harassment of women by phone in Himachal Pradesh. Women in Himachal Pradesh are increasingly at the receiving end of lewd calls. At 151%, Himachal Pradesh has the third highest tele-density in the country next only Delhi (254%) and Mumbai (181%). Locals attribute it to the telecom revolution in Himachal initiated by former Union Telecom Minister Sukh Ram.

“The number of telephone exchanges increased tremendously during his tenure. Later the BSNL and other companies expanded their networks in rural areas,” General Manager, BSNL, M.C Singh told HT. There are nearly 1.3 lakh landline connections in Himachal against 80 lakh mobile phone subscribers.

The large number of phones has led to an increasing incidence of their misuse to harass women. Ironically, Mandi, the home town of Sukh Ram, recorded the maximum number of such cases the last five years. There were 45 cases of harassment via telephones in Mandi district while Shimla reported 42 of the total 256 cases registered in the entire state.

In 2011, the police introduced a Short Message Service wherein women, who were reluctant to visit police stations, could register their complaints on their mobiles. In the last five years, more than 15,761 mobile phone subscribers have filed a slew of complaints through SMS at various police stations “We have already taken some steps and more are being taken. More police helplines are being set up in the state,” Director General of Police Somesh Goyal told HT.

The police registered FIRs against 326 persons for harassing women on telephones in last five years

Five years ago, the Shimla police had constituted anti-Romeo squads deputing policemen in civvies to record the activities of youths harassing women, especially outside girls’ colleges. But over time, the drive was abandoned and no reasons were given for it. This year only 17 cases of eve-teasing have been registered so far.

Calling for more effective steps, Sheetal Sharma, a woman activist, warned: “There are a variety of personality issues that can cause a man to start obsessing about a woman to the point of stalking her. Stalkers are known to break laws and terrorise their victims. They must be dealt with sternly.”

Women can report the matter on 9459100100.

Source Hindustan Times 

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