Beware! Pervs coming out of wood works

The IT City may have a robust nightlife and maybe keeping awake longer, but its women are not safe if recent incidents of perverts entering hostels and stealing or parading in their underwear are anything to go by. Sadly, most women's hostels or residential quarters of companies don't have adequate security to keep such intruders out, reports Team DC

In a shameful indictment of the city, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) called it unsafe for both women and children and if its recent history is anything to go by the assessment is not off the mark.  

Besides paedophiles stalking children even in schools, there have been several incidents of perverts and psychopaths on the prowl, sneaking into women's restrooms and hostels to indulge in weird fetishes such as photographing them in a state of undress or in the toilet or making away with their underwear, putting a huge question mark on the safety of women in the city. 

In less than a year over five such incidents have been reported and only in three cases have arrests been made. They include the psychopath, who made the lives of women at the Maharani's Arts and Science College hostel miserable. 

While this was only a few months ago, the city recently saw another psychopath scale a building at the BMRCL quarters and enter a room in which two women staffers were asleep. He sat beside them and introduced himself as a thief when the women woke up and questioned him. He later left taking their panties with him.

An incident of molestation on Dec 31, 2016 night was caught on CCTV near Kammanahalli 5th Main Road in east Bengaluru. A woman was molested barely 50m from her house, after she got off an autorickshaw. An incident of molestation on Dec 31, 2016 night was caught on CCTV near Kammanahalli 5th Main Road in east Bengaluru. A woman was molested barely 50m from her house, after she got off an autorickshaw.

In the incident at the Maharani's Arts and Science College hostel last year, the psychopath, Abu Talim (34), a native of Kishanganj in Bihar, who worked as cleaner at the Bangalore Turf Club for 10 years, had sneaked in by scaling the wall attached to the Bangalore Turf Club and stole and wore ladies innerwear hanging from the clotheslines and strutted around in it.

Though he never harmed anyone, the inmates of the hostel lived in fear for months before he was arrested by the High Grounds police.

"We never thought he could be from the BTC. That's why we didn't catch him sooner," said the police said. Recently, the first runner up of Mrs. India World, Rajyashree Vishanth said a 'psychiatric person' wearing heavy make-up and lingerie, tried to misbehave with her on the NICE Road.

And two housekeeping staff, Parmesh (22) and Dharmendra Kumar Yadav (30) of different IT companies in HAL and Indiranagar were arrested after the employees caught them sneaking into the restroom and photographing women in the toilets.

While there are likely to be more such perverts and psychopaths on the prowl in search of their targets, the police say it is difficult to understand their behaviour as they appear normal. "The perverts and psychopaths exist, but are not easily traceable as they usually have clean backgrounds. And they do not commit all their acts in one area as they know they will be caught," says a senior police officer. 

While there are demands from women for tough action against such individuals, public health doctor, Sylvia Karpagam, believes they need proper assessment and treatment as they are usually suffering from a mental disorder. "Beating them up will not address the problem effectively as they may commit the same act in future," she says.

A 35-year-old man who was stealing lingerie from the women's hostel at Maharani's College was arrested in March 2017 after a CCTV footage that caught him in the act was widely circulated in the media. A 35-year-old man who was stealing lingerie from the women’s hostel at Maharani’s College was arrested in March 2017 after a CCTV footage that caught him in the act was widely circulated in the media.

All companies, staff quarters should have CCTVs: Police
The increasing incidents of  perverts entering women’s hostels and company employees’ quarters and stealing their  underwear has raised the issue of safety as they managed to sneak in at various times of the day and night, leaving the inmates terrified.

At the BMRCL women employees’ quarters even the presence of security guards did not stop the man from entering and making an easy getaway.  He was aided by  the absence of CCTV cameras at the quarters.

Considering the poor security at ladies hostels and residential quarters of companies, the city police is now planning to instruct  them to up their  security by installing CCTV cameras at strategic places. They have also advised the companies to have women housekeeping staff in the  restrooms.

Additional commissioner of police (East), Seemanth Kumar Singh, says  they have directed all the companies and private firms to install CCTV cameras and tighten their security.

Referring to the recent incident in Indiranagar, where a housekeeping staff member of a private firm was caught red-handed taking photographs and videos of women in the restrooms through a hidden camera, he says  men should be strictly not allowed to enter ladies’ restrooms even if they happen to be part of the housekeeping staff.  “All the companies must follow this to prevent such incidents.The companies with a large number of women employees must install CCTV cameras in the corridors near the restrooms to keep a check on such perverts. These men are not psychopaths, but criminals and we are taking strict action against them to deter others from committing similar crimes or even think about them,” he assures.

A senior police officer emphasises that all the ladies hostels and residential quarters should have at least one night security guard.“The security guards must maintain a register of people visiting not only at night, but during the day too.  Companies or their residential quarters with a large  number of women, should do a background check on people before hiring them, especially the security guards,” he underlines.

Difficult to spot sex offenders, but normally they are drunkards: Dr H. Chandrashekahar, HoD, Department of Psychiatry, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute
Sadly, it is very difficult to spot sexual offenders, but addiction or alcoholism can be related to them. One cannot slot them in one category either as there are perverts, sexual offenders and others and it is not easy to assess their psychology.  Peeping Toms or those who derive sexual pleasure from secretly watching people undressing or engaging in sexual activity are not exactly normal and sometimes they can turn into offenders and  can even be very dangerous. 

Those who enter  women's hostels strike only when they have the opportunity and are surprisingly  law-abiding citizens otherwise. There have been many attempts to slot them into a group such as  sadomasochistic or anti-social personality, but a molester does not fit into an anti-social personality group. Many psychiatric journals say most come from low socio-economic backgrounds and are members of minority groups. Many come from psycho-sexual backgrounds that include histories of conflict and other trouble with women. They have a marked inability to relate to women personally and sexually. 

Meanwhile, what we as a society need to focus on is prevention and creating awareness. Sex education should be mandatory in schools, which should also have counsellors or mental health professionals, who can  educate students about good touch and bad touch, how to communicate their problems and improve their life skills.

Prevention is better, as sadly, studies show that sexual predators are not strangers, but are usually associated with or close to the family of the victims and are often respectable members of the society. 

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