When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

In India, A Female Police Unit's Aggressive Anti-Rape Patrols

After the nation and world's attention turned to the plague of Indian gang rapes, a women-only police unit was founded in Bhopal with one central objective. Some say they go too far.

The Nirbhaya Patrolling Mobile Service
The Nirbhaya Patrolling Mobile Service
Shuriah Niazi

BHOPAL – This city in northern India recently launched the Nirbhaya Patrolling Mobile Service. This female patrol was named for the physiotherapy student who was gang-raped in New Delhi in 2012, Nirbhaya meaning fearless one. The squad consists of 6 female police officers and they patrol the city in a van from early in the morning until late in the evening.

According to India’s Crime Records Bureau, the state of Madhya Pradesh reported the highest number of rape cases in 2011. “India is not a safe place for half of the population,” says Inspector General SK Jha adding that the patrol aims to lower that number.

After the gang-rape case in 2012, there was a growing awareness among Indians of crimes against women. It’s a tribute to the case. Their slogan is ‘of women, for women and by women’. We want to provide help for women and girls.”

Sitting together equals sit-ups

But many say that the patrol squad is going too far. Young girls and boys sitting together in a park can be punished: Boys are ordered to do sit-ups while the girls are told to tell their parents that they’ve been caught by the squad.

A 19-year-old student Nirmal Pathak was once caught sitting with a girl in a park. He was told to do sit-ups and was taken to the police station. “Do you think it’s a crime to sit with a girl in a park? I don’t think they have the right to take such actions. We live in a society where we are free to choose who we sit and walk with. The squad’s actions are totally wrong.”

The squad’s head, Namita Sahu, defends their actions. “We are not policing morals. The squad was formed to protect women. We ask girls and women not to sit in secluded places, because there they have more chance of being harassed.”

Another college student, Asma Khan, says the squad only creates fear among young people. “We’re really scared of the squad. They should realize that scolding young couples is not going to change the situation against women in a city like Bhopal. They have created fear instead.”

Fear instead of awareness

The squad receives the full support of some Hindu hardline organisations. Ashutosh Jaiswal is from the right-wing Hindu organisation, Bajrang Dal and agrees with the squad: “I strongly support their actions. They’re here to preserve Indian culture and tradition. After all, people should not be allowed to do what these couples are doing. They engage in vulgar acts in parks. We’re not going to allow such things to happen.”

But some women are critical of the group. “They should realise that sitting in a park or any other place, is not a criminal act,” says Vijya Pathak from the women’s group, Mahila Virodhi Uthpidan Morcha.

“If a boy and a girl sit together, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have bad intentions. The squad has to use their heads.”

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


The Problem With Always Blaming Climate Change For Natural Disasters

Climate change is real, but a closer look at the science shows there are many factors that contribute to weather-related disasters. It is important to raise awareness about the long-term impact of global warming, but there's a risk in overstating its role in the latest floods or fires.

People on foot, on bikes, motorcycles, scooters and cars navigate through a flooded street during the day time.

Karachi - People wade through flood water after heavy rain in a southern Pakistani city

Xinhua / ZUMA
Axel Bojanowski


BERLIN — In September, thousands of people lost their lives when dams collapsed during flooding in Libya. Engineers had warned that the dams were structurally unsound.

Two years ago, dozens died in floods in western Germany, a region that had experienced a number of similar floods in earlier centuries, where thousands of houses had been built on the natural floodplain.

Last year saw more than 1,000 people lose their lives during monsoon floods in Pakistan. Studies showed that the impact of flooding in the region was exacerbated by the proximity of human settlements, the outdated river management system, high poverty rates and political instability in Pakistan.

There are many factors that contribute to weather-related disasters, but one dominates the headlines: climate change. That is because of so-called attribution studies, which are published very quickly after these disasters to highlight how human-caused climate change contributes to extreme weather events. After the flooding in Libya, German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung described climate change as a “serial offender," while the Tageszeitung wrote that “the climate crisis has exacerbated the extreme rainfall."

The World Weather Attribution initiative (WWA) has once again achieved its aim of using “real-time analysis” to draw attention to the issue: on its website, the institute says its goal is to “analyse and communicate the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events." Frederike Otto, who works on attribution studies for the WWA, says these reports help to underscore the urgent need for climate action. They transform climate change from an “abstract threat into a concrete one."

In the immediate aftermath of a weather-related disaster, teams of researchers rush to put together attribution studies – “so that they are ready within the same news cycle," as the New York Times reported. However, these attribution studies do not meet normal scientific standards, as they are published without going through the peer-review process that would be undertaken before publication in a specialist scientific journal. And that creates problems.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest