All-women police force in India 'will scare men' by tackling sexual violence and harassment

Women are trained in martial arts

Rachael Revesz
Tuesday 25 July 2017 13:41 BST
Police force tells women they can call or WhatsApp if they have an issue
Police force tells women they can call or WhatsApp if they have an issue (Getty / AFP)

In conservative north-west India where sexual violence and harassment of women is commonplace, the city of Jaipur thinks it may have found a solution.

A new all-women police force now patrol the streets on foot and by moped to protect women and let them know help is at hand.

The police tell women that they can call or even WhatsApp for help.

Around 80 per cent of Indian women have been harassed by men in public, known as “Eve teasing”, which includes catcalling, lewd comments and being followed by strangers.

The women police also have months of martial arts training.

“This is very good because men will be scared when they see those women on duty,” male resident Ram Lal Gujar told AFP.

“If one man gets beaten up, others will also feel the heat automatically if they’re doing anything wrong.

Police patrol parks, shops and public areas 

 Police patrol parks, shops and public areas 
 (Getty / AFP)

“That’s why I think it’s a really good idea.”

Almost 40,000 rapes occur in India every year, but it is thought that the number of rapes that are unreported are much higher.

Women are thought to be scared to report a crime due to the mostly male police force and due to a fear of reprisal, or being judged to have provoked the attack.

Women encouraged to phone or WhatsApp unit
Women encouraged to phone or WhatsApp unit (Getty / AFP)

“The message we want to send out is that we have zero tolerance towards crimes against women,” Kamal Shekhawat, who heads up the new unit, told AFP.

The unit has reportedly seen a preventative effect and levels of harassment of women in typical spots decrease.since it was set up in May.

The new force follows a similar initiative in the neighbouring city of Udaipur in October.

In the state of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, police have developed “anti-Romeo” squads to target the same crimes, but they are mostly male-dominated forces.

Many people welcome the crackdown efforts. yet others criticise the “moral policing” and targeting of unmarried people, interfaith couples and men who have shown no evidence of harassing women.

The new policing strategies come after multiple, harrowing cases of gang rapes and other acts of violence against women which hit the international headlines and sparked large protests in India and abroad.

One particular case of a medical student, who was brutally raped and killed on a bus in December 2012 in New Delhi, brought the country’s laws under scrutiny but attacks are still common. On average there are six rapes per day in New Delhi.

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