They are the protectors. But they, too, have not been spared. Not only local women, but women police constables also bear the brunt of sexual harassment on a daily basis. Due to the spurt in women-related crimes, the demand for deploying women cops has substantially increased. Ironically, the protectors are also wary of men on the prowl.
Women cops are also subjected to lewd remarks, lecherous stares, inappropriate touching, obscene proposals over the phone at the police control room and a lot more, while discharging their official duty. The most vulnerable are the women traffic police constables deployed around rotaries in the city.
Police data reveals that four women cops had formally complained of harassment by men in public.
The scenario is no different in neighbouring SAS Nagar and Panchkula, where women cops also suffer sexual harassment. However, none of them has come out in the open and no formal complaint has been lodged against the perpetrators in the last three years.
“We are concerned about the safety of policewomen. Therefore, they are not assigned duty during late night hours,” a police official told Hindustan Times.
HT interacted with several women cops of Chandigarh police to uncover their sad plight. Even as they stated that they did not feel secure in the city, none of them wanted to come on record.
“We have to constantly bear the lecherous stares of commuters. People pass obscene comments and drive away,” they said.
One of them said passers-by, particularly youngsters, often used derogatory language at public places, ignoring their presence.
On record, the police chiefs of Chandigarh, SAS Nagar and Panchkula continue to be in denial mode, while insisting that no major incident of sexual harassment has been reported by any woman cop in the recent past.
However, there have been instances when policewomen complained of difficult and uncomfortable working conditions. Another woman constable working in the police control room said sometimes, men callers use abusive language or try to indulge in obscene talk.
In most cases, they either do not complain or the calls are traced to PCOs. Last year, a caller was booked for making obscene calls to policewomen on the police control room number. But this isn’t the end of it.
The police force is replete with instances wherein male constables ‘misbehaved’ with their women counterparts during working hours.
There have been instances when women personnel lodged verbal complaints against their male colleagues. However, these ‘tiffs’ usually end up in a compromise or are resolved informally through mediation of senior colleagues.
Also, the police authorities need to impart behavioural training to its personnel to gain peoples’ confidence. Women, especially girls, are not comfortable going to police stations or approaching policemen with complaints.
“I and my friends have been at the receiving end of lewd comments and winks from cops several times,” said Ridhima, a college student.
Last year, two policemen faced action for allegedly misbehaving with girls.
Misconduct by policemen
April: A girl complained that she was teased by a traffic cop in Sector 17. The girl called up the police control room and complained that the cop winked at her near the Canara Bank building. However, she was unable to give particulars of the policeman or identify him.
September: Home guard volunteer Om Sharma, posted at Sector 43 Inter-State Bus Terminus, was dismissed following allegations of sexual harassment by a student of Post-Graduate Government College for Girls, Sector 11. He had misbehaved with the girl in the bus.
Women cops victimised
July: Bathinda resident Harpreet, studying in a city-based institute, was booked for eve-teasing after he tried to “act smart” with a woman constable, posted with a police control room van, outside Aroma hotel in Sector 22. He made obscene remarks and gestures in front of the policewoman.
August: An auto-rickshaw driver misbehaved with a woman constable and almost dragged her when she stopped his vehicle for checking on the road dividing Sectors 16 and 17.
October: The modesty of a woman constable, who was in civvies, was outraged in a local bus. In a complaint, she said a city resident misbehaved and touched her on one pretext or the other. The woman cop made a video of the alleged accused. The accused, Rajinder Singh (29), was arrested.
February: A lawyer and two other persons were booked by the Chandigarh police on charges of teasing a woman constable and assaulting her husband in Sector 27. The couple levelled charges of stalking, misbehaviour and assault against the trio. Advocate Amarbir Singh, in turn, accused the cop’s husband of hurling abuses and thrashing, claiming that they had been falsely implicated.
March:A Burail resident played a prank on women cops. He called the PCR number with the intention of talking to the woman constable on duty and told her that a blast could rock the city. Babal (25), a cook at an eatery, was arrested. He later confessed that he called up the cop for fun.
May: An unidentified man called a woman constable and made obscene comments. She was on duty at the Police Control Room, Police Headquarter, Sector 9. The caller could not be traced as he had called up from a PCO.