Solutions to Combat Sexual Harassment – The New Indian Express
Express press service
CHENNAI: Women experience various forms of sexual violence in public spaces, from unwelcome sexual remarks, gestures to rape. Women’s safety has become a concern, but the following support systems are available to help them feel safe.
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Developed by Tamil Nadu Police, the SOS app has been downloaded over 10 lakh times. People residing in Tamilnadu especially women and old people can use the app whenever they feel threatened. The help of the police will reach them at the earliest.
There’s a red button on the app that when pressed sends a distress call to the nearby control room.
A senior police officer spoke of an incident in Kancheepuram in which a woman was sexually assaulted by a pair as she was returning home from work.
“She opened the app and pressed the button while she was being followed by the duo. The distress call reached the control room and based on the phone’s location, staff identified a patrol nearby,” the officer said.When the patrol arrived at the scene, the men had mobbed her.
They were arrested, the officer said. Although the app has been available for years, it gained popularity after being mentioned in Suriya star Etharkum Thuninthavan.
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When a victim of harassment experiences trauma, the arrival of the police, which arouses the interest of neighbors, adds to the hurt. In some cases, survivors do not want to go to a police station or be visited by the police. To help them, members of the Pink Patrol come into the house dressed in civilian clothes to take statements.
Survivors, while contacting the control room or police personnel, can ask officers to arrive discreetly. “The program is primarily used to deal with child survivors. The officers park the vehicle a few blocks from the house and visit the family posing as relatives. Reporting and counseling is done by visiting staff,” said G Shymala Devi, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Crime Against Women and Children.
The counseling center was established as part of the Safe City Projects for Women’s Safety in Public Places of the Nirbhaya Fund at the office of the city’s police commissioner. It is called “Nirbhaya Specialized Counseling and Support Center for Women”. Social advice, legal advice and psychological counseling for children are provided at the centre.
Councilors said that since the inauguration, they had not received anyone who had been harassed in public places. However, women with family or violence problems sometimes recount the first instance of being harassed.
This TNIE series examines the issues faced by women in public spaces and what can be done to address them