In tête-à-tête with Commissinor of Police Rachakonda Mahesh Bhagwat

Eve teasing is a euphemism used throughout South Asia, which includes (but is not limited to) India, Pakistan Bangladesh and Nepal for public sexual harassment or molestation (often known as “street harassment”) of women by men, where the name “Eve” alludes to the very first woman, according to the Biblical creation story. (Wikipedia)

While traveling in the local buses, trains women are touched, pressed everywhere and it’s difficult to judge whether it was a mistake or done with purpose. One of my friend who was traveling in a local bus in Hyderabad, had also become victim of one such incidents. She was sitting beside her friend on an aisle seat, the bus was full packed due to office hours. After some 10 min she realized something unusual. The man who was standing beside her started rubbing his penis against her hand. In the beginning she didn’t realize but later on it was clear that he was doing it intentionally. She later exchanged her seat with the friend but the man continued his action at the end my friends had to leave the bus at the next stop.

I also remember one such incidence that happened to Lucy and that was much talked about on the social media. http://lucysmilesaway.com/2015/03/15/staying_safe_in_india/ is the link of her blog where she has narrated her experience.

From small towns to metro cities eve teasing is everywhere. So what could be done for it? Women can scream, use pepper spray, use some self-defense scheme etc. However,recently we came to know about the SHE team which was launched in 2014, to punish eve-teasers has been successful in Hyderabad city. Currently, the government has expanded its functioning to all districts. Government has even launched SHE-cabs in the city. So, we thought of interviewing Mr. Mahesh Bhagwat, Commissioner of Police Rachakonda, Telangana, who has been instrumental in closely working and monitoring SHE Team since its launch.

Mr. Bhagwat hails from Pathardi, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra and holds an Engineering degree from Government College of Engineering Pune, he also holds a bachelors degree in Law. He has received numerous prestigious awards one of which is the President award for meritorious service.

ThatMate: What is SHE team?
Mahesh Bhagwat :SHE is a zero tolerance team for women’s safety, which  functions directly under the assistant commissioner of police crimes but is supervised by the commissioner of police . We carry out sting operations with our team of around 5 police personnel and our lady staff acts as a victim. The team is provided with spy cameras to record the conversations and movements. The aim is to curb eve teasing in all forms, at all places, providing safety and security to women in the society, facilitating healthy environment for womens’ and thus building up their confidence.

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TM:How does SHE team function?
MB: SHE team comprises of five police (Men and Women police) personnel in civil dress who are  provided with small Spy cameras to record the movements of suspect. These team members identify the busy places like Bus stops, Railway stations, colleges, women hostels or other crowded places. The team moves in this area and observes the behavior of the eve teaser and records their movements with the secrete cameras. The details of the stranger is kept secret in central database and his activities are monitored daily. Legal action is initiated as per provision of law.

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Another source of information is Whatsapp number 94906 17111, after receiving the complain on this number,  a lady staff calls the victim and collects all the information about the victim and the place. Afterwards a detailed investigation is done against the accused and proper legal action is taken.Legal action is taken depending on the marital status and age of the person. If he is a married male then in the front of his wife and if unmarried then in the front of his. And if the boy under 18 year old he is given counseling by professional counselors and psychiatrists. The accused are given counselling sessions bi-weekly in front of their family members.

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TM: Why do you think there is so much of eve teasing or crime against women in India?  And is it possible to reduce such incidences?

MB: Women in India are not treated equally as their male counterparts and that starts form our own houses. We start telling our boys to take risks and not to help in house hold chores however girls are told to be non-opinionated and non-risk takers. While when it comes to household work they are supposed to be perfect. This mentality has to be changed. Also, sexuality education is not provided properly. Kids are curious and they need to know the right things at the right age however, their questions are unanswered and the reasons given are this doesn’t fit in the culture of India.

Yes, it is definitely possible to reduce such instances through proper sex education right from home. There shouldn’t be any discrimination between a girl and a boy in the family. They should be treated equally. I guess when a father will respect his wife, a son will respect his sister, his friend and mother.

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