ATM-Like Machine Lets Women in India Anonymously Report Crimes

The electronic booth helps ladies get justice by avoiding police officers who harass.

(Photo: 'Telegraph India'/Twitter)

Aug 27, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

The police are supposed to be there to help, but reporting sexual or physical assault to law enforcement is a scary prospect for too many women around the world. For ladies living in the world’s most populous democracy, India, harassment by male police officers is all too common. Last year, the head of the country’s Central Bureau of Investigation even said that women should enjoy being raped.

That’s why Joydeep Nayak, the inspector general of police in the northeastern city of Bhubaneswar, has spearheaded the creation of the Instant Complaint Logging Internet Kiosk, an electronic booth that allows a woman to safely report a crime.

“Women were being denied a fundamental right because of this fear of going to the police. Why should they need someone’s help to do something so basic?” Nayak told the Toronto Star.

Walking by an ATM gave Nayak the idea for ICLIK, which has been installed in a bank. A woman who wants to report a crime can go to the machine, which resembles an ATM. She can type her complaint, scan a prewritten statement, or speak the details of a crime to the machine. The machine then sends the complaint to the closest police station and gives the user a receipt, which enables her to track a response.

India’s high rates of child marriage and rape, as well as trafficking and domestic servitude, have made the nation one of the most dangerous places in the world for women. ICLIK has had eight to 10 women submitting complaints every day, according to the Star.

“My dream is to have a kiosk alongside existing ATMs, in schools, railway stations, and bus stations, all over the country so that women can walk in, complain, and leave without any escort or hassles,” said Nayak.

What’s less clear is whether misogynistic police officers will take the crimes against women submitted through the kiosks more seriously. Still, advocates for women are optimistic that ICLIK can help.

“The fact that women are put off from going to a police station to file a complaint masks the real scale of the problem of the violence,” Mamta Sharma, chair of the National Commission for Women in New Delhi, told the Star. “We don’t have the real figures. If we had these kiosks all over, we would then know the true picture.”