The sight of a man in Khaki gives a jittery feeling to the traffic violators, but a look at the women cop monitoring traffic comes as an opportunity for the hooligans to pass a lewd remark or make an offensive gesture.
While the women cops take pledge to protect the society against evil doers and take pride in wearing the uniform, they are subjected to humiliation and embarrassment through direct and indirect acts of sexual harassment.
Wary of men on the prowl, some women cops prefer wearing uniforms even after duty hours especially when they are travelling in public transport.
Sharing their experience, Anu and Rakhi (names changed), who had joined as constables in the Punjab Police two years ago, said,
"Very few men respect us, but it is the uniform that empowers us more than a common woman. However, there are some reckless individuals who do not abstain from passing comments or trying to act smart with us. We both have made several complaints on the police control room (PCR) or to our senior officials to take such hooligans to task," the duo went on to add.
Women traffic cops not taken seriously
As women traffic cops try to stop traffic violators, especially men, they ignore instructions or get into arguments with them. There have been occasions when groups of boys take repeated rounds of the areas where the women cops are on duty on their two or four-wheelers.
Narrating an incident, a showroom owner said, "One day as two women constables on traffic duty were walking from one side of the road to the other, a Tata Safari full of boys passed by and the one sitting on the co-driver seat pulled down the window saying "hello" loudly to them. As the surprised constables stopped, another boy at the back shouted, "Aaajo sohneyo lift de dinde ha tuhanu" (Come on beautiful, we can give you lift). The women constables ignored the boys and started walking again, but it caused them embarrassment as despite being in uniform they seemed helpless.
Try to take mobile numbers, click pictures
"Men trying to get friendly with us by trying to take our mobile numbers puts us in an awkward situation. Many a times, we get away refusing politely, but at times, we have to be stern by telling the individuals that such an act amounts to sexual harassment and a complaint can be registered," said Sarabjit, another woman cop. The worst being men trying to click pictures of women traffic constables with their mobiles that scares the newly recruited constables.
The department has constantly worked to make environment safe and conducive for women cops. As a confidence-building measure, we have made a policy, wherein women constables work in pairs and in times of emergency they act as each others' support. Senior police officials act promptly in case of complaints pertaining sexual harassment. Also, lot of educated girls/women are joining police department as recently 100 graduates have been appointed as sub-inspectors across the state.
GS Dhillon, DIG Ludhiana Range