Mumbai: In slums of Chembur in Mumbai, women and girls are calling Assistant Sub-Inspector Archana Patil, ‘didi’. The hesitation they earlier felt while talking to policemen or women seems to be disappearing now, thanks to Mumbai Police’s project ‘Police Didi’.
Like Ms Patil, there are over a thousand such ‘police didis’ who after their official work hours, reach out to girls and women in slums.
Under the project ‘Police Didi’, these officers talk to the women and girls from slums about the problems they face, especially those pertaining to sexual harassment.
Launched around two years ago in collaboration with a few city-based NGOs, the project engages women personnel from 93 police stations across the city.
They are mostly constable and some are assistant sub-inspector level officers as well.
“Now, women living in slums are frequently coming forward and confidently sharing their problems, including the ones related to sexual harassment. This has been made possible as our trained women constables have struck a rapport with them through regular meetings,” Deputy Commissioner (Operations), Mumbai Police, Ashok Dudhe said.
Initially, 8-10 women personnel were shortlisted from each police station and were given training on how to talk to women and young girls on sexual abuse.
The project, Mr Dhude said, was launched with an objective to curb instances of child sexual abuse. It first began from Wadala, Govandi, Cheetah Camp, Deonar and Shivaji Nagar, all eastern suburbs, where such cases were rampant.
“After the training, they were asked to visit private and municipal schools under their respective jurisdiction and conduct interactive sessions with girls. The women officers told them about difference between good and bad touch, by strangers, relatives or known person within or outside school,” said Mr Dudhe, who is also a Mumbai Police spokesperson.