In May last year, Telugu actor Ashmita Karnani was on her way back home from work when two men on a bike allegedly harassed her, trying to block her way while making lewd gestures. Unlike many other women, who would probably panic, Ashmita filmed the two men and the bike's number plate on her phone and then posted their pictures on her Facebook page.

 

The two men were businessmen from localities in the Old City area of Hyderabad and were picked up after over 16,200 people on Facebook responded to Ashmita's request to share the pictures with the line, “Show them some love guys! SHARE SHARE SHARE.” She had tagged the Hyderabad police as well on the pictures.

 

Little surprise then that when the SHE team of Hyderabad police, a dedicated force of one hundred teams of plainclothes officers decided to make an educational 58 second video to show how it fights eve-teasers, it wanted to cast Ashmita in a different role – as a tough woman cop. 

 

“They were very keen that they wanted me to do it when it was conceptualised. I was more than happy to be a part of it. I was only too thrilled that I did not have to play the part of a damsel in distress and instead play a cop,” says Ashmita. 

 

Ashmita, who grew up in Hyderabad says it is important for every woman, irrespective of her age, to think smart. She emphasises that everyone should be aware of the surroundings in which they move because danger could be lurking anywhere.

 

“Use your smartphone smartly. Before this incident last year, there was another one of a man trying to tease me at a traffic light. The moment I took out my phone to take his picture, he started the bike and ran away, jumping the traffic light,” says Ashmita.

 

SHE teams were launched in Hyderabad in October 2014, with the objective to prevent harassment of women in public places in the city. The fact that harassment of women is a real problem can be gauged by the fact that 2220 complaints have been received so far, with 647 of them through the online route via email, Facebook and WhatsApp.

 

What's worrying the police is that one in every five persons indulging in eve-teasing is a minor. The police have warned that they will file criminal cases against all offenders, irrespective of age.

 

“In fact, eve-easers are now scared that there could be a SHE team present anywhere so the frequency of cases have, in fact, reduced. So there is a deterrence,'' says Swati Lakra, additional commissioner (crimes) of Hyderabad police and officer-in-charge of SHE teams.

 

The films will now be screened in film theatres. The fact that Ashmita, who emerged as a role model for women in the city by reaching out to the Hyderabad police and social media to track down the eve-teasers, is cast in the role takes the film's credibility quotient a notch higher.