Christians demand protection for girls in Delhi

DELHI, INDIA :– new Commissioner of the Delhi Police, Mr. Y.S. Dadwal, IPS, has promised sympathetic consideration of the demand that the police have a “single window” approach to the problems of the hundreds of thousands of tribal girls working in the Indian capital of Delhi, many of who have been victims of rape and sexual molestation, as well as physical abuse and financial exploitation.

The was part of gender justice issues brought to his attention by a delegation of Christian leaders who called on him at the Police Headquarters Friday afternoon (August 10).
Mr. Y. S. Dadwal

The delegation consisted of Mr. Sangtam, former Congress MP from Nagaland and President of the Baptist Church Trust, Dr. John Dayal, Member of the National Integration Council, Government of India, and President of the Catholic Union, Rev Madhu Chandra, regional secretary of the All India Christian Council and Mr. Franklin J Qureshi, Secretary of the Baptist Union of North India.

The delegation presented Mr. Dadwal with a memorandum listing issues of intrusions into graveyards, land mafia pressure on church properties, police apathy towards violence against Pastors in distant parts of the capital, and the situation of women tribals both from Central India and from the North East.

A spokesperson for the delegation told ANS, “The Police Commissioner gave a patient hearing to the delegation. Mr. Dadwal said he had studied in Catholic schools, and assured there would be no compromise on the Constitutional rights of minorities.”

Explaining the plight of tribal girls working as domestic workers in Delhi, the delegation said that research by Sister Mary Scaria of the Justice and Peace Commission, and Dr John Dayal, had found that out of the domestic workers in Delhi homes, almost 80,000 were Catholics from Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

They stated that their sexual exploitation was common place and also that police action was almost always “inadequate.” They said they had seen the harassment of these women, and the difficulty they encountered in getting a First Information Report (FIR) registered with the police.

The delegation, which had leaders from the North Eastern states, also narrated the harassment of students and other young women from their states working in Delhi: Many young women from the North East work in coffee shops and other establishments speak English and are otherwise independent. They face sexual harassment in the neighborhood. Instead of acting on complaints and taking Suo Moto* action, local police seem to put the blame on the women.

“We were surprised when senior police officers told them to be more modest in their dress,” the delegation said. Mr. Sangtam told the Police Commissioner that community leaders must be consulted by the Police.

Mr. Dadwal said he had served in Arunachal Pradesh, and was “sensitive to issues of the North East.”

The spokesperson added, “While he assured the delegation that the police would act against intimidation of Pastors and alienation of property and related crimes, the community had also to be vigilant in these matters to assure the safety of their assets.”

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