Teachers, cops and students of Telangana will work together to fight gender crimes: Inspector General Swati Lakra

Inspector General of Police Swati Lakra in a conversation with us says the Telangana police is vigilant enough to not allow any complaint filed by women to pass through without a formal case.

Published: 12th October 2018 01:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th October 2018 11:04 AM   |  A+A-

Inspector General Swati Lakra

Swati Lakra, Inspector General of Police (Women's Safety), interacts with the TNIE's editorial team as part of Express chat, in Hyderabad. (Photo | R Satish Babu/EPS)

By Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Teachers, cops and students of Telangana will work together to fight sex and gender crimes. To address the problem of sexual abuse of school children, State police will soon form SHE Teams at school levels. These teams will be headed by a teacher and have students as acting representatives. “The programme is already existent in colleges and will now be extended to government schools,” said  Inspector General of Police (Women’s Safety) Swati Lakra.

“Currently every college has student representatives who are in touch with SHE Team members. Anything unwanted in the college is brought to our notice by them,” she said, adding that she wanted to “better formalise the programme.”

Similarly, now there will also be representatives from schools, who will work in tandem with SHE Teams and UNICEF. The programme will begin with the inclusion of students from social welfare hostels, as they are among the most-neglected. Slowly it will be expanded to also include private schools.  

“Every school will have a small group of students and teacher with whom most feel comfortable; this group will work with us. We also plan to have She Boxes, in which students can drop letters about any kind of abuse they are undergoing in school. It will be placed in such a manner that it won’t be very obvious that a child is going and dropping something in it. Right now modalities are being readied,” said Lakra. 

Additionally, from when the SHE Teams were set up to now, the rate of minors who were caught for abuse have come down from 80 to 20 per cent owing to the awareness drives, she said.

Parents play a role

The team is also in touch with the education department where they are working to include gender sensitisation in the school syllabus, particularly for students of lower classes. She pointed out that along with schools, parents also play a major role in gender sensitisation. “If boys are given preferential treatment at home they will think of themselves as superior to their sisters and eventually to other girls too. Parents must treat their sons and daughters as equals,” she said. 

Young boys equally vulnerable 
The IG also mentioned that though in common parlance sexual abuse may seem to pertain only to girls, the reality is that boys are equally vulnerable. “Many cases of boys being abused are brushed under the carpet and those that we get are just the tip of the iceberg.” 

Sensitisation within police  
IG Swati Lakra says the TS police is vigilant enough to not allow any complaint filed by women to pass through without a formal case. As for the Telangana’s She Team, every new member is given 1 month of gender sensitisation. The team is also reshuffled every 6 months to ensure all members are sensitised at least once. Each officer is given SOPs on how to react to victims.

READ HERE | ‘#MeToo will make predators think twice’

How police deal with old cases 
The police cannot take suo moto cognizance most often as there is not enough evidence in public domain to do so, observed Swati Lakra. Women, however, can file complaints and can give evidence in the form of witnesses or people they have spoken to about the incident. The police can question witnesses, and analyse CCTV footage to arrive at conclusions.

Bharosa courts set an example
The Bharosa courts permit minor victims to record their statement under section 164 via video call and present the same to the Magistrate. They function twice in a week and are located away from the main court and have a unique child-friendly design. A glass separates the victims and judge from the accused, in such a way that the accused is not seen by the victim. Having made 14 convictions in last 6 months, the courts plan to move from hearing sexual abuse cases to rape cases.

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