Will UP’s Plan to Name and Shame Sexual Predators Prove Effective or Endanger Women Further?

Social Commentary

Will UP’s Plan to Name and Shame Sexual Predators Prove Effective or Endanger Women Further?

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

Crimes against women have been on the rise in Uttar Pradesh. Phrases like “goonda raj” and “lawlessness” are back to haunt the Hindi-heartland state. The pressure on the administration has mounted over the last few months as the media highlights more and more tragic cases, and the opposition sharpens its attack.

In a bizarre move, the UP government led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed officials to launch “Operation Durachari”. As part of the initiative, eve-teasers, those guilty of crime against women and habitual offenders in cases of sex-related crimes will now find their posters on road crossings in Uttar Pradesh. Is name and shame a wise way to go about this?

“The Chief Minister has directed that women police personnel should be asked to take firm action against such offenders and their photographs should be pasted on crossings in order to name and shame them,” said an officer. He stated that the CM has asked to have sexual offenders punished by women police personnel so that “they realise the pain”.

The officer also stated that anti-Romeo squads will intensify the crackdown against sexual offenders and the police have been directed to identify repeat offenders and ensure strictest action against them. The CM has stated that in case any crime against women takes place, the beat in-charge, chowki in-charge, station officer and the circle officer would be held responsible. He also asked the police to identify people helping or providing legal assistance to sexual offenders and publicise their names and identity.

While many on social media have praised the initiative stating that it may prove to be an efficient deterrent, some have questioned the practical feasibility and wisdom of such a decision. What if the allegations turn out to be false at a later date? How will the Government be able to compensate for the loss of dignity of the person being accused?

“The government must be careful about the difference between accused and guilty. I wonder how many of these “eve teasers” have been convicted by a court of law,” a user pointed out.

Some users pointed out that the government can perhaps start by sticking posters of Swami Chinmayananda and Kuldeep Sengar, who have been associated with the BJP. While the former has been accused of rape, the latter got a 10-year jail sentence for raping a woman in 2017. Set an example from home, Mr Adityanath?

“It would have been better that instead of putting up posters and glorifying criminals, the government would have been able to get the killers and rapists the severest punishment,” said Akhilendra Pratap.

Whether the move endangers women and children further, or whether Operation Durachari proves to be a success, will be known in the time to come. The government will have to be cautious not to make a bad situation worse, with reckless decision-making.