Roadside Romeos, their friends on city buses, and more of their ilk elsewhere in Thiruvananthapuram will soon have several sets of eyes watching them, and more number of fingers to send instant messages on mobiles to policemen waiting to nab them.
With the number of instances of women and girl students being harassed on their way to work, schools or colleges on a steady rise in the city, the city police are preparing to bolster its Fem Patrol, which has been on the job from March 8.
As of now, the patrol’s mode of operation has been to send policemen and women constables in mufti on city buses and to other select spots where women or students are regularly victims of teasing and other forms of harassment.Unreported cases
S. Ajeetha Begum, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), who is overseeing the Fem Patrol, feels a majority of such instances go unreported with victims, particularly girl students, being hesitant to take the miscreants to task. Pointing out that the Fem Patrol, a brainchild of Manoj Abraham, Inspector-General of Police, Thiruvananthapuram Range, was set up to tackle such cases exclusively, the DCP said plans were afoot to encourage reporting.
The city police, particularly its women force, would reach out to schools and colleges in the city after the annual vacations with two objectives.Raising awareness
One was to create awareness on the need to report such incidents to the police, and the second, to slowly build a civic Fem Patrol among the students and training volunteers. Students who saw other women or students being harassed could alert the police, either by calling specific numbers that would be given to them, or to help-lines, or by sending messages.
“Many are afraid of being identified and so, we will convince them not to worry about that aspect. We can just be alerted and take cases based on the information they provide us,” Ms. Begum said.
There were plans to rope in Kudumbashree self-help group members too, she said.
The passing on of information to the police, she added, would be enabled in different ways, including by the use of the popular messaging service Whatsapp, which was being tested out now as part of getting alerts of poll code violations.