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Women fall prey to criminals; feel insecured

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REGARDLESS of even if the best of efforts have been expended, one of the hardest challenges of any government is dealing with negative public sentiment based on negative perception. In the instance of crime rates, for example, a statistical decline in crime cannot hold a candle to the public feeling that they are not safe.

The  layman’s debate on whether police crime statistics properly reflect safety on the ground where the common man lives may be the culmination of a number of factors: the statistics may be skewed by the under-reporting of crime because victims do not understand the importance of putting a crime on the record; the interpretation of the statistics may be inaccurate; or, the dissemination of news about crime is made easier by online social networks, and this not only takes each incident of crime into the consciousness of more people, but, through the sharing of first-hand experience, makes the horror more tangible and palpable.

That the Selangor deputy chief police officer has come out saying that the spike in serious crimes in the state is caused by criminals released after the repeal of the Emergency Ordinance does not help. Because EO detainees are held without trial and, therefore, have not been charged with any crime, the theory is of course questionable; but, unfortunately, the public cannot help but latch on to the confirmation that there is a spike in crime. This only serves to heighten the public’s paranoia.

But whether driven by statistics or perception, fear can place a heavy cost on society; and these hidden costs aggregate higher than what is formally lost to crime. For instance, when women are the main target of vicious opportunity crime, all women feel insecure. And in a country where nearly 50 per cent of the population are women, this can have flow-on effects on society and the economy, for women here actively contribute to the economy in formal and informal ways.

Few urban households would be able to make ends meet if women did not work. And they work in every imaginable field and in every office; and they get to work and home on their own. And in spite of modern times, women still bear the traditional burdens of marketing, grocery shopping, and sending and picking up children from school. Seventy per cent of undergraduates in public universities are female. Yet, moving around in numbers, or in the company of trusted men, while sensible, is an impractical solution to keeping safe. For, if all men had to chaperone their wives, mothers, sisters and daughters all the time, that’s the other half of the workforce gone, too. – Editorial NST