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Updated: January 31, 2014 18:55 IST

I am…Shirlet Mani - Circle Inspector, Women's Cell

P.Anima
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Shirlet Mani. Photo: K.Ragesh
The Hindu Shirlet Mani. Photo: K.Ragesh

“I was very active in the NCC (National Cadets Corps) in both school and college. When I think about what brought me to policing, I can trace it back to my days as a young cadet. At both St. Michael’s School and Providence Women’s College, I was actively into NCC. I was even part of the Republic Day parade in 1985.

We are three girls in our family and my parents brought us all up to be confident. So I never shy away even when I find myself in a space mostly inhabited by men. I got into the service as a police constable after clearing the PSC examinations in 1991. Though I had an NCC background, I had no awareness of policing. In fact, I was completely lost on my first day at work. I was posted at the local police station in Koyilandy and on the first day I had Law and Order duty at Koduvalli. I had no idea where the place was or who my superiors were. I had never spoken to a senior police officer before. But Circle Inspector Prathapan sir was very kind and gentle. He directed me to the police station which was merely half a km away. His gentle guidance was relief to me and I was at ease.

After stints at different rural stations I also was part of the Railway Police for two years. I do not remember having to intervene in any untoward incident then. But I tend to feel there should be more aids, like an emergency button or some other instrument, which a woman in crisis can press. In stressful circumstances, even a simple cell phone can appear complicated.

Since being part of the Women’s Cell, I have been handling mostly issues of domestic violence and adolescent problems. I make it a point to interact with people, be it through the Janamaithri initiatives or social groups or through classes. People should know that they can approach the police with their problems. Over the years, increasing number of women have started using the helpline number 1091 to report harassment. Students too come to us with stories of being trapped. Among adolescents, the cell phone and social networking sites are creating havoc. We have got training in counselling and we put it to good use when we are addressing adolescent children. I give lectures regularly, at least twice a week, and I constantly encourage young girls to come to us in case of trouble.

I begin work by 8 a.m. and if there are petitions to be settled work goes on late. Over the past 20 years, I have seen cases of all sorts. With experience you learn to tackle them stoically. But the issues of harassment of young girls by their own fathers are the most difficult. I remember such a case during my early years in Koyilandy where in a mother brought in an 11-year-old girl made pregnant by her father. We ended up spending a lot of time with the child taking her for medical check-ups and other trips. It is a case I tried to keep tab of even after leaving the station. I later found out the father had died in jail, but could not track the mother and child.

Till now, I have never felt any difficulties just because I am in this profession. My superiors like the Commissioner and the SP Women’s Cell have always been helpful. My family has also been a strong source of support, be it my husband, children and my mother. At work, when you are in uniform, whoever is in front of you, victims or oppressors, all take you seriously.”

(A weekly column on the men and women who make Kozhikode what it is)

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