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Women Safety in Telangana: Unleashing SHE Teams

Under the able guidance of IPS Officer Swati Lakra, Telangana is providing a safe environment for women by taking up one of its kind initiatives in the state. The unique SHE teams ensures their safety day and night.
Indian Masterminds Stories

After India saw some of the most horrified crimes committed against women, women safety has become one of the top most priority in India. While the Centre as well as the state governments are taking up several steps to ensure women safety, Telangana Police Women Safety Wing (TSWSW), headed by IPS officer Swati Lakra, has done an excellent job in making a safe environment for the women of the state.

1995-batch IPS, Ms. Lakra who is posted as the Additional Director General of Police Women Safety, is spearheading the operations of appropriately titled `SHE Teams’ in Telgangana.

In an exclusive interview with Indian Masterminds, Ms. Lakra discussed about this unique operation and how it’s successfully reaching out to the women.

“The Women’s Safety Wing has several modules that cover a 360-degree perspective of safety and security of women and children in the state. In this we have taken up various initiatives which are thoroughly monitored from the head office of the Wing.”, said Ms. Lakra. 

SHE TEAMS

The first initiative which turned out to be a success was the SHE Teams. Launched in 2014 by the Chief Minister of Telangana, the initiative focused on the providing safety to the women on the streets.

Speaking about the initiative, Ms. Lakhra said “Such type of a team was started for the first time in the country. The main steps taken by the team is providing safety to women on the streets, from cybercrime, cyber harassment and even harassment over phone, social media, etc.”

The committee heading SHE teams

Each team consists of five people of which atleast one police personnel is a woman, to make the complainant feel comfortable. The team is headed by a Deputy S.P rank officer, along with an Inspector of Police, two Police Constables, and one Women Constable to co-ordinate with unit SHE Teams for tackling offenses across the state.

HOW DOES SHE TEAM OPERATE?

Said Ms Lakra, “The team operates in two ways. One is by going into the community incognito, along with discreet cameras to record the happening in the community. They stay, observe and then nab the offenders. Dressed up as civilians, nobody in the community gets to know about the SHE team members. This also give a kind of deterrence to the people as anybody can be a member of the team.”

“Secondly, a SHE team operates through complaints. We have provided many platforms through which the complainant can reach out to the SHE teams. First is the SHE teams offices which are located in a non-police station area. Second is through WhatsApp in which a separate number has been distributed in every district, and for the head office as well. There are some other platforms also such as Hawk Eye mobile application, email and social media.”

Launching WhatsApp number to file complaints

In the year 2019-20, a total of 10,833 complaints were received by SHE teams through various modes; 8152 respondents were dealt with;13255 Awareness Programs were conducted, and 25,476 hot spots covered by SHE teams as part of their work including.

TRAINING

As of 31 December 2020, there are a total of 341 SHE teams in the state. All the team members are trained before they are told to operate as per the SOP. Ms. Lakra also mentioned that they are very particular in training the team members about gender sensitization. Every member is taught how to speak to a petitioner and take their complaint without judging or questioning them.

Awareness among students

SHE also focusses on evidence and its importance. Ms lakra said “We work absolutely as per the evidence before taking up any complaint from a woman. With the use of CCTV camera footages, and other evidence against the accused, we decide if the complaint should be taken up or not.”

The wing has also roped in psychologists to counsel the boys, men, or minors who have been nabbed and warned by the SHE teams.


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