Women's grievance cell of Pune police says female constables not even aware of what sexual harassment means
To make women constables understand the issues related to sexual harassment, the city police plan to work in collaboration with the cell against harassment and atrocities against women operated by the Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule Women's Studies Centre of the University of Pune (UoP).
The plan to hold workshops and awareness drives has come about after senior officials from the Women Grievances Redressal Cell of the police acknowledged that women constables in the force were simply not aware of the term sexual harassment.
The need to make the women in the police force aware of such matters gained importance after the infamous case in Kolhapur where a male constable and other officials were accused of raping trainee women police constables last April.
Workshops for 150
The UoP cell in September conducted workshops involving about 150 women constables on the university campus under the guidance of Police Commissioner Meera Borwankar. The workshops aimed to sensitise the female constables on matters like gender inequality and sexual harassment at the workplace, and educate them on how to handle lewd remarks and sexual advances or any other physical or verbal conduct of sexual nature.
"During the awareness drive, we were astonished to find that the women constables were simply not aware what sexual harassment is all about and most of them never reported any indecent behaviour by their male counterparts to their seniors. Maybe they simply did not know where to file a complaint," said Police Inspector Smita Jadhav, who handles the Women Grievances Redressal Cell of the city police.
The UoP cell plans to conduct more such programmes this month that shall involve the senior officers and administration department of the police force. It will also train and educate women constables who have enrolled as drivers.
Senior Police Inspector Sushma Chavan of the Cantonment police station said, "After the Kolhapur incident, we were given strict instructions that something of the kind should not happen in Pune. Such awareness drives are precautionary measures and are very important."
Sharmila Rege, director of the Women's Studies Centre, said, "We not only address the issue but also work towards sensitising women police officials. The discussions range from gender equality to the language they should use and handling of problems when dealing with criminals, the masses and even their colleagues."
University of Pune Women's Studies Centre
The UoP Women's Studies Centre, of which the cell against harassment and atrocities against women is a part, is one of the top three departments in India where students, faculty administrators and staff can lodge complaints related to sexual harassment and gender inequality.