It has been two years since the Hyderabad police set up 'SHE teams' to tackle crimes against women, and latest statistics show that they might be succeeding.
According to statistics released by the department, crimes against women have dropped by 20% over the last two years, with 1,296 cases registered this year, compared to 1,521 cases of harassment last year.
Launched on October 26 in 2014, each SHE team comprises of five undercover women police personnel, who have been provided with cameras to record acts of harassment in public.
The teams have also been tasked with dealing with online harassment of women and cyber bullying.
"Close to 40% of the people caught were from the 18-20 age bracket, while 25% were from the 20-40 age bracket. Minors constituted 23% of the people caught. We also found people older than 55 harassing women," Swati Lakra, additional Commissioner of Police (Crimes), Hyderabad and head of the SHE teams, told the media at a news conference.
Speaking to TNM earlier, Lakra had stated that minors caught in such cases were usually from poorer socio-economic backgrounds and were counselled along with their parents before they were let off. They were also monitored and asked to report back to the police occasionally.
At the news conference, she also added that, "As far as the nature of the crimes is concerned, stalking cases both physical and virtual were reported, along with phone harassment and eve-teasing cases. Inappropriate touching, taking photos without a girl's knowledge near bus stops, colleges etc were also reported with high frequency."
"We have also received a lot of complaints on harassment via social media and Facebook," she added.
The SHE Team chief also added that incidents were declining in many areas where earlier instances of harassment were reported.
A recent survey showed that 76% of the people in the city knew about SHE teams. This widespread knowledge was acting as a deterrent for men, she said.
To promote more women to speak up, she added, the names of those complaining to the SHE teams would not be revealed.
"We have also done a lot of awareness programs in schools, colleges, hostels, parks, malls, shopping complexes and even screened short films on social responsibility," Lakra added.
She also promised that stringent action would be taken against repeat offenders, to discourage such offences further.
"We cannot work without the public and we are giving an assurance that we will work hard and try to live up to the expectations of the public," Lakra said.