Kerala’s Pink Police Patrol
The Pink Police Patrol have taken to the streets in Kerala’s cities to protect women and children from street violence and sexual harassment.
Walking around Kochi, India, you might suddenly see a pink van passing by with a brigade of five women in khaki uniforms inside. On the side of the van is the following: Pink Police Patrol.
A Pink Patrol officer explained, ‘We are part of a special police force focused on helping women and children in this area. They can dial 1515 and we assist them in no time.’ Kochi was the first city to implement this special patrol but now there are brigades all over the Indian region of Kerala. ‘It’s the first time something like this happens in India,’ the officer explained proudly.
As part of their campaign, the Left Democratic Front government, which came to power in Kerala in May 2016, said that they would put initiatives in place to prevent crimes against women, after the previous Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government had failed to put a stop to such incidents. The government first launched the Pink Patrol in August 2016 as part of this commitment.
The teams operate under the supervision of each District Police Chief. They patrol public transport and are present at schools, colleges and other public places to assist women, children and senior citizens. They offer basic assistance but are also in charge of patrolling the streets and shutting down any situation that could lead to ‘eve-teasing’ (sexual harassment) or molestation threats at night.
Patrol cars for this special brigade are equipped with GPS tracking devices and cameras on the front and rear. These cameras send visuals to the control room in real time, which allows for additional forces to be deployed when necessary.
However, the Pink Patrol only works from 8am to 8pm, which could be considered the safest hours. Perhaps a night shift would truly solve some of the many problems India has regarding abuse and harassment, which tend to happen during the night.
In an interview with The News Minute, Pramod Kumar, Pink Police Coordinator and control room Assistant Commissioner, said that the Pink Patrol does not only police sexual harassment against women. The brigade is in charge of detecting any crime or anti-social behaviour against women in public places, including harassment, verbal abuse and certain gestures: ‘Anything that harms the dignity of a woman’.
Despite the government’s efforts, last year a Christian vicar was charged with sexually assaulting a female minor, a Hindu priest was arrested in connection with the rape of a 70-year-old woman, and in Wayanad five people were detained after the discovery that seven girls from an orphanage had been sexually exploited by men in a nearby shop.
And why the Pink Patrol? According to Kumar, ‘it is the general belief that blue is for boys and pink is for girls, so we have named the initiative “Pink”.’ This is surprising, especially in a country like India where colours represent so much. Blue would have been a more prudent choice: in Hinduism it represents bravery, determination and the ability to deal with difficult situations.