Archana Patil, assistant sub-inspector of Chembur, is these days called 'didi' by scores of women from slums in suburban Mumbai who would otherwise hesitate to talk to men and women in uniform to share their problems. Thanks to Mumbai Polices project Police Didi, the hesitation seem to be disappearing.
Like Patil, there are over 1,000 such police didis, who after their official work hours, reach out to young girls and women of all ages in slums.
Under the project Police Didi, these female officers talk to the women and girl from slums about the problems they face, especially those pertaining to sexual harassment.
Launched around two years ago in collaboration with few city-based NGOs, the project engages women personnel from 93 police stations across the city. They are mostly constable and some are ASI level officers as well. Deputy Commissioner (Operations), Mumbai Police, Ashok Dudhe said,
Now, women living in slums are coming forward more frequently and confidently to share their problems, including that of sexual harassment. This has been made possible only because of our trained women constables have established a rapport with them through regular meetings
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, 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. Dudhe, who is also a Mumbai Police spokesperson said,
After the training, they (women personnel) were asked to visit private and municipal schools under their respective jurisdiction, and conduct interactive sessions with girls. The girls told about difference between good and bad touch, by strangers, relatives or known person within or outside school.