Meet The Super Cop Behind SHE Team
In the last few days, #metoo is trending a lot on social media, with many women openly talking about their experiences of being sexually harassed. This is a first, in terms of so many women -especially Indian women- bluntly talking about being harassed and considering the societal perspectives of victim blaming when it comes to sexual harassment. In this context, stuMagz decided to catch up with Swati Lakra, Additional Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad and we spoke to her about her initiative — She Team, that aims to curb sexual harassment in all aspects, in all forms, at all places, providing safety and security to women in the society.
Considering that stuMagz caters to students, for their benefit, we asked her about how She Team functions and to that she said, “She Team works in two ways. One is that we catch people red handed, with a lot of our personnel in mufti in the areas that we identified as hotspots for sexual harassment in the city. They go on field with cameras and record the perpetrators in act before arresting them. We ensure a 100% conviction rate by having solid evidence before we make a move. And because women don’t file complaints most of the time, we take up the cases Suo Moto. As these usually are registered as petty cases, we also call the perpetrators’ families as we realised shaming the perpetrators has a major impact. We call the wife/mother/father/sister, etc of the person and we clearly inform them as to what the person has done.
Another way She Team works is through complaints. We have a WhatsApp number, we have a mobile app, various social media platforms, email and more. We ensure there is a very quick response.”
An interesting point that we found out through the conversation was that they register cases and take action but they do so only after due enquiry to ensure there is no misuse of these laws. “We don’t want someone to just file a fake case and get someone convicted for revenge or something and that is why we do thorough enquiry,” she explains.
She Team also has a very different approach towards the victims, as compared to the previous scenario, as Swati informs, “We ensure that the victims are treated properly and are not further victimised. Every person in our team is sensitised well to ensure the victims are comfortable,” before adding, “So far, based on independent surveys by various media houses and NGOs, and based on the response that we’ve gotten, I can say that Hyderabad is safer for women when compared to other cities.” Also, according to her, any person can just walk in to the She Team office located at Haca Bhavan and register a complaint. “While Police Stations now are very citizen friendly, She Team are not located in Police Stations. Any victim -regardless of age- can just walk in and file a complaint as we have highly trained people and considering the fact that most of the people who work with She Team are men, we take great care in sensitising them and training them. They know how to talk, what to talk and what not to talk. In fact, we encourage our own team members to talk to women in their families about their personal experiences of being sexually harassed. This gives these men a better understanding of what a woman goes through when she is harassed” she explains.
In addition to taking legal action on perpetrators, She Team also actively conducts campaigns and workshops for college students. “We conduct a lot of awareness activities on eve teasing, sexual harassment and more. We also conduct workshops on self defence, workshops on how to avoid becoming victims of cyber crime and general safety in colleges,” Ms. Swati explains, adding, “We realised one doesn’t need to be a black belt in Karate or something to be able to defend herself. We tied up with a self defence academy and came up with a small booklet of 10 simple techniques that will help a girl get out of a situation. We are now in the process of distributing it to students all over.”
We at stuMagz, urge every girl, woman, to speak out against sexual harassment and boldly take steps towards fighting it. We also applaud Swati Lakra for this wonderful initiative and hope she succeeds in making Hyderabad the safest city.