HYDERABAD: For Preeti 10-minutes walk from her office in Banjara Hills to the nearest bus stop meant uncomfortable stares, catcalls and lewd comments, which she turned deaf to and continued her journey. Last Friday, however, things took a turn for the worse when two bike-borne boys trailed her for a while, passed comments and and then suddenly groped her breast and sped off. Shocked, shamed and hurt, Preeti continued walking, watching her back throughout the journey.
With the She teams having booked more than 80 cases in just two months, it is evident that city roads and public spaces--be it crowded or secluded--are infested with cheap thrill seeking perverts. Armed with secret camera, each five cops team in plain clothes keep vigil near colleges, bus stands, hospitals, malls and other crowded places and closely monitoring offenders before catching them red-handed in act.
In course of their decoy operations the She teams have identified four types of sexual harassment perpetrators, who are more commonly called eve- teasers; those who lurk in crowded places as well as in deserted streets and pass lewd comments; those who mingle in crowd and pass time by trying to take pictures or videotape girls and women by focusing on certain parts of their body; those who take advantage of crowd and pinch, squeeze or touch women; bikers whose idea of fun includes groping women as they whiz past.
“During our vigil at public places like bus stands, in buses and MMTS, near colleges, women hostels, etc., we found most offenders in 16-35 age bracket engaging in such activities--catcalls, passing lewd comments and groping are the most commonly engaged behaviours,” says Swati Lakra, additional commissioner of police.
While first time offenders are let off after counselling, repeated offenders will be booked under Nirbhaya Act, Lakra added. The teams have also identified hotspots for eve-teasing which include areas such Koti, Narayanaguda, Kachiguda, Tankbund, Secunderabad railway station, St Ann’s College at Mehdipatnam, Dilsuknagar NRI College, Vani Women’s College and SR Nagar bus stop among others.
Though at present 100 teams are operating throughout the city with focus on these hotspots, Lakra says its is not possible for them to be at all places at all times. Hence, for any girl in distress and anywhere in the city ‘Dial 100’ is her best bet. “If you feel you are being stalked or you see a particular boy or group of them creating nuisance just call up 100. We have nabbed several people after we getting such calls,” Lakra says and adds that it is the most immediate help a girl can get.
Calling the She teams a successful initiative, Lakra lauds the response of public as well who almost readily give their statements. “Eve teasing is not a problem of women but of the whole society. We need to develop an attitude of zero tolerance towards it,” she said ad added that men can should play an active role in this ‘revolution of sorts’ by coming forward and calling up 100 to complain if any woman is being harassed. The cop assured that their identity would not be revealed if they wished so. Like every good initiative, could She teams also be abused by the victims to implicate innocent men? The additional commissioner disagrees saying the modus operandi of the teams is such that there is no scope for misuse. “Armed with secret cameras, the team observes and shoots the video of accused molesting the girl and then nabs them. Accounts of passersby are also taken into account,” she says.
Self-help, Best Help
To further create awareness on women safety, She Teams are in talks with the education department to include self defence techniques like ‘Krav Maga’ and karate as a part of school and college syllabus. Cops will impart training to trainers like students or teachers who will then train other students.
Eve teasers classified
She Teams have identified four types
Those who lurk in crowded places and pass lewd comments
Those who mingle in crowd and take pictures or videotape girls and women by focusing on certain parts of their body
Those who take advantage of crowd and pinch, squeeze or touch women
Bikers grope women as they whiz past
Koti, Narayanaguda, Kachiguda, Tankbund, Secunderabad railway station, St Ann’s College at Mehedipatnam, Dilsuknagar NRI College, Vani Women’s College and SR Nagar bus stop among others have been identified as hotspots for such activities
Of those booked 10 are minors/juvenile while most of them are Intermediate students while few are mechanics
First time offenders are counselled in the presence of their families; repeated offenders will be booked under Nirbhaya
For immediate help Dial 100. Identity of the called will remain anonymous