We wake up every day to find stories of sexual harassment, molestation, and rape. Everywhere from a glimmering corporate house to a dingy state transport bus, women are not safe. A few days back, social media flooded with women (and men) sharing their stories of sexual assault with #MeToo, followed by #SoDoneChilling. But does that provide a solution? No.
Meet Dipesh Tank, who is doing his bit to make this society a safer place for women. In six months, he has helped catch 140 sexual harassers in Mumbai locals by recording the act.
Unlike may of you reading this story, Dipesh grew up in a slum in Mumbai. Since his childhood, he saw his mother working hard to take care of the family, as his father suffered with health problems. His mother started her own catering business and worked for 12 hours a day to ensure a life of dignity for her children. People in the slum bad-mouthed her, as she came back home late from work. But that only increased her stature for Dipesh.
He gave up his education when he was 16 and started working as an office boy to offer some respite to his mother. He worked hard to sustain his family financially and dedicatedly became the first person to reach office and the last one to leave. He forged ahead within a few years and got employment with a reputed ad agency.
Like most Mumbaikars, Dipesh would commuted through Mumbai locals. One day, while he was passing through a station, he witnessed something that changed his life. He saw a group of men harassing women who were trying to get into the ladies compartment. He went to the cops for help, as he could not fight them alone. The cops tried to dismiss him but Dipesh kept persuading. After sometime, one of the officers went with him but by that time, those men had left. Dipesh was very saddened by that incident.
He kept on thinking about his mother who used to return home late after work. He did not want to let that incident go and decided to do something about this widespread problem. Dipesh and his friend started researching and monitoring multiple train stations. They realized there were hundreds of such harassers everywhere; and over 85 percent of women had been harassed or felt scared while travelling. He wanted to bring in a change.
Dipesh invested in a pair of sunglasses with a built in HD camera. He used to stand at the end of the women’s compartment and record everything within his sight. He felt horrible after witnessing the situation of women who faced harassment every day. After collecting all evidences, he went to the police station to show the magnitude of the problem. Fortunately, the police understood the gravity of the issue and a team of 40 police officers began working with Dipesh and his friends.
“People do not fight because they fear that the same thing will happen to them. They need to understand that galat karne waale ko darr zyada lagta hai (the person who has wronged is more scared).” — Dipesh to KenFolios
The cops would stand in between two stations with Dipesh. The live feed of his recordings would catch the offenders on camera. By the time the harassers reached the station, the officers were there waiting for them. Within three to four years, the team caught hold of 150 offenders and sent them behind bars.
Dipesh says the fight continues as there is so much more to do. He has started taking up personal cases of domestic abuse to help women who feel unsafe. He says he felt responsible for the men who were behaving like beasts. All men are looked at in a poor light because of a few hundreds who create the chaos; he is hoping to restore the balance.
“I think that people who choose to suffer because of the fear are the culprits. They need to take a stand. If there are ten times you are getting harassed, at least stand up twice.”
Dipesh is an honourable human being who knows how to respect women. Instead of ignoring and looking away, he has tried to reach the root of the problem and come up with a solution. He is giving hope to so many women who have lost trust in men and feel scared at every point in their life. This man has tremendous respect for women, especially his mother. He sends out a message to everyone, “Raise better boys at home, and the world will know fewer disrespectful men.”