“When I was appointed the DCW chairperson, I was the advisor to the chief minister for grievances. I wondered why I was being asked to head a body, where only retired people were appointed in the past. But I read the act. Women commissions be it Delhi Women Commission, Bengal Women Commission or the National Commission for Women, they all are formed under an act, which is very powerful. I can summon the police commissioner and any other officer. If I want, I can make recommendations to the government on any issue. And, if on occasions our instructions are ignored, I can also issue arrest warrant.”
“I will give you an example. We asked for data from Delhi Police Commissioner because, unfortunately, Delhi is known as the rape capital of the world. We asked for data on how many cases in crimes against women were registered, how many chargesheets were filed and what was the number of convictions. Interestingly, for six months, we were denied data. After that we issued a notice to the police commissioner and he was very angry. He said that there will a law and order issue if they gave the data to us. We then issued a summon against him warning that if he did not give us the data we will have to issue an arrest warrant. Then all data arrived and the finding was shocking. The data was that between 2012 and 2014, 31,446 crimes were registered in Delhi. FIRs were filed but less than 150 were convicted. In our country nobody fears the law. They think they can get away with any crime against women and that’s what the DCW is trying to change.”
The most important thing that I realised that I needed to break the media cycle. I realised that they were going to make a story out of anything. I just had to stop giving them something. I was so nervous, I was so scared. But over the period of time, I realised it was okay to be nervous. I was shivering. I couldn’t get out of my bed. That night I hadn’t slept. I remember when I got back, the first call I got was from Swati( Maliwal) mam. That was the first time I felt it was going to be ok… Just because of her I felt safe in Delhi. Just because of her I was able to come back. The confidence her team gave me, my mother, my aunt. I think it’s so important when you are talking about social justice for women that only authorities can do that. There is the safety that people holding important positions can provide to you. I could be the bravest person but I need somebody to tell me that you are going to be okay.”
“Delhi used to be very safe during our childhood. But in last 20 years, Delhi’s condition has deteriorated alarmingly. One of the reasons is that people now have quick money because of the real estate development. Our real challenge is how to channelise the youth energy. If we can’t channelise the energy of youth properly, they can turn destructive. So it (growing number of rapes) is not just a political problem. It’s a social problem.
“In Bengal things are slightly different. Here we worship mothers. Durga Puja is an integral part of our culture here. Women in the whole of eastern and north-east India are given better respect than say in north India.”