Call police control on 100 for travel assistance by autos

Finding safe and affordable transport after dark is a problem faced by a large section of women commuters.

As part of efforts to make the city safe for women, the police will soon launch a scheme under which women can call the police control room on 100 and request for an autorickshaw, irrespective of their location, destination, or hour of the day.

A set of 150 autorickshaw drivers, all with a clean police record, have registered their names with the Police Control Room in an expression of willingness to help “stranded” women commuters.

When the control room receives a request from a woman commuter, the “despatch officer” will call the nearest “women-friendly autorickshaw” service provider on his mobile phone and direct him to the location, said Assistant Commissioner, Control Room, P. Bijoy.

In the next phase of the scheme, the police will install GPS tracking devices in autorickshaws to know the position of a cab in real time on a digital map of the city, thereby enabling Control Room officials to respond faster and efficiently to calls seeking travel assistance.

The drivers will carry police authenticated identity cards.

Their vehicles will have a distinctive “women-friendly transport” sticker on the rear windscreen.

The scheme is part of a larger government programme to make the city safe for women. City Police Commissioner P. Vijayan will head the scheme.

The other components of the scheme include night shelter for women; a special unit to trace women reported missing from the district, help-desks for women at all police stations and formation of collectives of women commuters, including rail and bus passengers, to empower them to jointly seek remedies for common issues.

More plainclotheswomen will be deployed at public places.

Social activists Aleyamma Vijayan and Rejitha, both members of Sakhi, a resource centre for women, had in a recent study pointed out that 98 per cent of women commuters who they interviewed had identified sexual harassment in public transport buses, bus stops, and roadsides as the main safety problem.

As many as 51 per cent feared potential chain-snatchers (mostly helmeted youth travelling on motorbikes).

Verbal abuse was the most common form of sexual harassment (80 per cent), followed by physical harassment (60 per cent), stalking (26 per cent), and exhibitionism (21 per cent).

The survey also revealed that only 7 per cent of the victims sought police intervention and it was mostly witnesses who informed the law-enforcement.

It also noted that 77 per cent of women were loath to approach the police. As many as 38 per cent of the respondents felt approaching the police was ‘too tedious’.

The fallout was that women felt insecure when they accessed a wide range of municipal facilities, including parks, public toilets, bus stops and market places.