Domestic violence, unfortunately, has never been a stranger to people here in India. And as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage across the world, the rate of reported gender-based violence cases have increased as well. As per a study published in the US National Bureau of Economic Research in June, domestic violence complaints in India have almost doubled in the districts with the strictest lockdown rules. In a grim situation like this, a Telangana police officer stepped up and went beyond her call of duty.
Meet Rema Rajeshwari, Mahabubnagar's Superintendent of Police who set up a 'Mobile Safety' vehicle to help domestic abuse survivors. Rema, who is also the first woman IPS officer from Munnar, Kerala, recently shared some shocking experiences and opened up about what prompted her to act. Talking to Humans of Bombay, Rema said that it all started a month into the lockdown when she received a call from a Kanpur woman, who was worried about her sister (residing in Telangana) as she hadn’t called for three days. The woman revealed that her sister’s husband would hit her and she was worried that might have happened again.
The police officer said, "We sent a dispatch team and found her in such a terrible condition, it shook me. She was badly bruised, hadn't had a single drop of water in 3 days and was writhing in pain. We rushed her to the hospital and filed a case against the husband."
Three days later, the woman was fully recovered and Rema arranged for her inter-state travel so she could move to Kanpur from Telangana on her sister's request. This incident, she said, acted as an eye-opener for her and motivated her to set up the ‘Mobile safety’ vehicle. It is a vehicle with her team members doing the rounds of Mahabubnagar. "There were so many victims of domestic violence living with their abusers and they couldn't even file a complaint," she added.
She further revealed that they filed 40 such cases in just two weeks after launching this initiative. From helping pregnant women reach the hospital in a police ambulance to setting up food banks for migrant workers stranded on highways, Rema’s team has been very proactive in helping people. "We set up shelters and tried convincing them to stay but it was futile. So we set up food banks along the highway–and once the railways finally opened, we helped 11,000 workers reach home in under 15 days," she said.
Unfortunately, a majority of Rema’s team tested positive for COVID-19 just a week ago. And while they’re recovering and in quarantine, they’re all eager to resume work ASAP. "Such is the love for our duty," Rema concluded.
Well, inspiring stories like these truly restore our faith in the system. We are so proud of you, Rema! Keep up the good work!
Featured Image: Instagram/Humans of Bombay