Ranchi: After two teenage girls committed suicide in just a week, Jharkhand authorities have decided to closely monitor police action in cases of sexual harassment.

On Tuesday evening, Juhi Khan, 19, a resident of Kuraisi colony of Ranchi, died in hospital during treatment. She had set herself on fire a week ago as her brother-in-law was allegedly exploiting her sexually for a year on promise of marriage.

On December 15, Monu Tigga a 17-year-old resident of Shantinagar of Ranchi also set herself on fire, hopeless of relief after being exploited sexually by her neighbour, Anup Kumar. Tigga committed suicide when no one was in the house.

On December 11, a 17-year-old girl in Jamshedpur jumped into a river at Mango Bridge. Timely intervention by some onlookers saved the girl from drowning. She too complained of sexual harassment.

"In all the 24 districts of the state, a helpline for women should be opened and awareness should be created among women through hoardings and advertisements about the helpline," Vasvi Kido, member of Jharkhand Women Commission, said. She told a news agency on Wednesday, "In many cases, the women's commission, women police stations and other bodies are just not aware of the grievances of women. The state government should take prompt action against police officials who do not take complaints of harassment of women seriously."

An "anti-eve teasing cell" was earlier constituted by the police, but it is now not functional. In April last year, a young man beheaded a girl outside St. Xavier's College, Ranchi. That incident shocked the whole nation. Despite repeated instances of abuse of young girls, the state police have failed to take action to prevent such cases.

Jharkhand Police chief G.S Rath, speaking at a programme on Tuesday, admitted that cases of atrocity against women had been rising in the state over the past few years."This is a social issue. People should come forward and help. In Jharkhand, there is no concept of social policing," Rath said, but did not elaborate what he meant.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda has directed the state police to set up helplines in all districts and take tough action against those found guilty of harassing women. A social worker said that young victims of harassment commit suicide as they are offered no counselling or support from the state police.


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