Women’s safety is one of the largest concerns in India. Every time we turn on the news channel or pick up a newspaper, we learn of a different woman who was murdered, raped, beaten up or fallen victim to an acid attack. In such a country, where even getting on the bus without being groped is difficult, the simplest of measures make a large difference.
After the unfortunate consecutive murders at Hinjawadi, the city’s IT hub, Pune Police launched the Buddy Cop to help working women feel safer. This system basically makes use of WhatsApp to connect police offers to women in an attempt to help them reach out to someone in the fastest way possible.
Here’s how it works: Whoever wishes to be a part of the Buddy Cop initiative registers at their nearest police station. They are added to a WhatsApp Group of the same police station. The admin of each group is your buddy cop and can be contacted at any time. If the particular cop is off duty, they he/she can assign someone else to you, thus making the service available 24/7. If help is needed in a different area, which is not under the jurisdiction of your buddy cop, they inform the police station nearest to you and send someone for help.
The initiative was originally started for IT employees where different WhatsApp groups were created for individual companies. Police Commissioner Rashmi Shukla had launched the initiative at Hinjawadi IT Park this March. By now, it has spread across 19 police stations in the city and over 45,000 women have registered.
Women are encouraged to call for help for absolutely anything that threatens their safety; it could be something as simple as being afraid to travel in a certain area alone. Although it started off slow, the response has picked up with more and more women seeking out help. Matters such as a woman not being allowed to shift compartments on a train when she felt uncomfortable with the men she was seated with, have been resolved by the police getting in touch with the Railway Protection Force directly. Since the launch, 6 serious offenses have been registered and the accusers caught.
The Buddy Cop system is currently active in police stations that fall under Zone III and IV of the Pune Police, including stations from Pimpri, Nigdi, Bhosari, Chaturshringi, Hinjawadi, Mundhwa, Hadapsar, Wanowrie, Vishrantwadi, Chandan Nagar and Viman Nagar to name a few. The plan is to extend this service to the entire city and make all women feel safer.
It may seem like a small measure, but when it comes to women’s safety, every step of the way counts. Here’s to more such initiatives! For now, spread the word and encourage your female friends and colleagues to register, you never know who you may be helping out!
Feature Image: Times of India