Why every state should implement Zero FIR System in India

The ghastly rape and murder of a veterinary doctor in Hyderabad has been a wake up call to India and its law enforcement agencies who have been lax about women’s safety. While the outrage seems justified, police personnel also need to be sensitised on how to deal with women’s issues.
Often, in India, when there is a perceived threat or an issue of harassment that a woman faces, the people they choose to inform first is their family or close friends. Nowhere in the scene would you listen to a woman dailing the Police or law enforcement agency in case of trouble. 
Ideally, anyone should be able to approach the police department for any trouble. However, in India, the concern of most women while making a complaint to the police is the “character judgement” that these institutions and officers make, which further pushes them away from approaching them in the first place.
Apart from the character judgement that the law enforcement agencies and its officers do, there is also the next phase of unnecessarily troubling the girl/woman about her private life and “what she was doing there.” Such questions from those who need to protect law and order only drive women further away from reporting any threat or harassment to them. 
Additionally, there is stigma for many people in India to approach police stations and lodge a First Information Report (FIR). This stigma is also heightened by “what will people think of me if I step into Police station.” Unfortunately, the pop culture and movies have also contributed to this unnecessary social stigma of approaching the police for help. For instance: SHE Teams in Telangana was created to make police more approachable to women in the city of Hyderabad. 
The idea behind SHE Teams is to encourage women to report issues and ensure their safety. Women/girls or any citizen can either report the issue through a phone call or Whatsapp, without having the need to physically visit a police station. So, SHE Teams and Hyderabad City Police have implemented the ZERO FIR system. 
What is a Zero FIR? 
A ‘Zero FIR’ is a document that can be registered by any police station when a complainant approaches them for a cognizable offence, whether the case is in their jurisdiction or not. 
In case of SHE Teams, once an issue is brought to their notice, they send you a ZERO FIR either through Whatsapp or mail and all you need to do is fill it up and send it to them. Interestingly, SHE Teams has a policy of keeping the reportee’s identity confidential. This makes it easier for women to report issues where they feel their safety is threatened. 
Now, Andhra Pradesh too is trying to implement a similar model across the state where a ZERO FIR system will be accepted. Instead of being directed to visit multiple police stations, the ZERO FIR System makes it easy for people to report a crime from anywhere in the state. 
Well, may be, this incident from Hyderabad is a wake up call for the law enforcement agencies to implement the ZERO FIR System across all states in India. That is one of the first steps they can take in ensuring safety of women in India and making police personnel approachable. 

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