Last year the Police department in Kerala state of India started a “Pink Beat Patrol” for enhancing the safety for women and children in public places. The Pink Beat included specially trained women police personnel. These police personnel was supposed to patrol on Govt run bus services and private stage carriers and was to be present at bus stops, schools, colleges and other public places. They were supposed to assist women, children and senior citizens travelling on buses. They were supposed to prevent street sexual harassment. These patrol vehicle was led by a women police officer and had two other women police personnel.
Unfortunately this laudable attempt to prevent infringement of human rights of women is having the opposite effect. Several reports had come out which point towards moral policing by the Pink Police.
Last August, when Kerala police had launched Pink Beat with much fanfare to ensure the safety of women in the state, little did one think it would have anything to do with moral policing.
The beats assigned had specially trained policewomen police doing the rounds of bus-stops, schools, colleges and other public places to ensure women’s safety. It also involved assisting women, children and senior citizens travelling on buses.
On Sunday however, going by a live video posted on Facebook by Jaljith Thattoli, the officials in Pink were seen questioning a couple for simply sitting together at the Kanakakkunnu Palace grounds in Thiruvananthapuram.
And this is apparently not the first time that the Pink Police has chosen to do so. On Wednesday too, Janayugam (a regional newspaper) had published a photograph in which a policewoman is seen hovering over a couple seated at Chadiyath in Ernakulam.
The caption tells us that she had taken it upon herself to solemnly advise the duo of the ill-effects of love! Netizens obviously saw red.
It seems the Kerala Police need some urgent lessons on Rights of humans, especially that of women. Protecting women does not mean putting them in a cage or controlling them. It means protecting their rights. It does not imply imposing restrictions on whom they should interact with. It does not mean Police should decide how and where they should interact. The person concerned should decide with whom he or she should interact. Any interactions with mutual consent should be protected and those without mutual consent should be actively discouraged. There are enough and more moral Police among public. We don’t need more moral police in Pink Police cars.
What Police should do is to ensure that fundamentals rights of all, including women are protected. It is as simple as that.