Inducted around two years ago in collaboration with a few city-based NGOs, Mumbai Police’s project ‘Police Didi’ engages women personnel from 93 police stations across the city. Well, women and girls in Mumbai slums now ignore a hesitation, talk openly to the police about their critical situation if needed.
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With Assistant Sub-Inspector Archana Patil, and other thousand such ‘police didis’, the squad now after official work hours, is going to these pocket areas and talking to girls and women in slums. The main focus is to cure the problems they face, especially those pertaining to sexual harassment and to curb instances of child sexual abuse.
“Now, women living in slums are frequently coming forward and confidently sharing their problems, including the ones related to sexual harassment. This has been made possible as our trained women constables have struck a rapport with them through regular meetings,” Deputy Commissioner (Operations), Mumbai Police, Ashok Dudhe said to NDTV.
It first launched from Wadala, Govandi, Cheetah Camp, Deonar and Shivaji Nagar, all eastern suburbs, where such cases were easily found with initially 8-10 women personnel from each police station.
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“After the training, they were asked to visit private and municipal schools under their respective jurisdiction and conduct interactive sessions with girls. The women officers told them about difference between good and bad touch, by strangers, relatives or known person within or outside school,” said Mr Dudhe, who is also a Mumbai Police spokesperson.
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Trisha Shetty, founder and CEO of SheSays, which conducts sexual violence, rehabilitating, education seminar in colleges, in schools, in pocket areas like Dharavi to empower women in general, has expressed her opinion about the matter to SheThePeople.TV exclusively. “While conducting our training programs, the second we talk about reporting cases, general attitude of trust when it comes to police handling the sexual abuse cases, we very often notice that most of the women hesitate to go for reporting cases as there are lots of negligence around. Will they provide us help, will they keep our identities secret or will they ask us to give them documentaries as evidence?- a lot of negation and mental blockage exists. I guess the past records from newspapers like how police have denied filing complains, or mental harassment in police stations led us to this situation where victim doesn’t believe in police force anymore,” she rues.
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Trisha further explains, “The initiative Mumbai police has taken up and the fact that they are going to these govt colleges and schools are great help. We think if they extend their outreach more to the private colleges too, that would help girls believing that our police system is on their side. And of course teaching them our jurisdiction would be coming in handy, they would know what the right procedure of complaining is, where to go and how to come off well versed in law. This is what we do in our trainings too. If you’re not strong enough to fight for yourself, then no one will take you seriously. Our motto is knowing your law, go for reporting and do not take a NO for answer. Also now social media is a big leverage where you’re having a one on one talk with the police. These platforms take your voices more seriously. Right now I think teaching laws is limited to a certain age group of child sexual abuse which of course needs to be addressed in India because in the last few years it became huge. With the same intensity, a good exposure is needed.”
If with the same speed our government takes up some more similar initiatives, women wouldn’t have to feel embarrassed anymore while complaining or talking to police in future.
Feature Image Credit: darpanmagazine.com
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