There are few things perverts love more than a metro car crowded with female straphangers. And nowhere is this more relevant than in Delhi, India’s capital city and the site of the notorious gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student in 2012. According to past surveys, 80 percent of Delhi women report being harassed on public transport, while 90 percent feel that the system is unsafe.
To help curb incidents of assault and unwanted touching, the Delhi Transport Corporation introduced women-only metro cars in 2010, but after shameless male gropers continued boarding them, the police force decided to take more extreme measures. Enter Operation Kali: an all-female, undercover security squad tasked with beating the hell out of pervy passengers who dare to misbehave.
“We are taking our security operations one step further for providing security to women passengers in the Delhi Metro,” says Arvind Ranjan, the chief of India’s Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). “We want them to travel safely in this transport system and hence this step. The message is clear to erring passengers that if they do not behave, they risk being dealt by our special female commandos.”
Special. Female. Commandos. How badass is that?
After being chosen for the job, the female CISF officers are trained in Pekiti-Tirsia Kali, a Filipino martial arts technique designed specifically for combat situations conducted in close quarters. They’re also taught how take on multiple opponents at once, as well as how to employ ordinary objects—pens, hair clips, belts, shoelaces, keys and sandals—as predator-squelching weapons.
(If you ask me, this type of practical survival training should be mandatory for all women, not just ass-kicking, Indian lady cops.)
And they really do kick ass. Below, one sari-clad officer springs to action after a male metro passenger was caught “Eve-teasing” (an Indian euphemism for sexual harassment) a woman seated nearby:
According to Delhi Transport officials, nearly 13,000 men were caught entering female-only compartments during the first two years of the single-sex car initiative, and today about 40 to 50 such incidents are reported every day. But hopefully not for long.
“These women commandos will take care of those who undermine women’s dignity in Delhi Metro and attempt to offend them in any manner,” a senior CISF officer says.
Here, undercover and plainclothes female officers smack around lawbreaking men as they exit the train car:
While most of the Kali commandos will operate undercover to maintain what the CISF calls “the surprise element,” some will patrol in uniform. Currently, two squads have already been deployed and a third is in training, and the police force also has plans to increase the number of women operating in the metros to ensure that no transgressions go unnoticed.
After enduring centuries of gender-based violence, maybe physically fighting back is the only option Indian women have to advance their cause. For a country ranked at an embarrassing 135th in a recent United Nations report on gender equality, the establishment of an all-female crime-fighting unit is obviously a major step forward.
And even better, this new initiative seems to already have a desired trickle-down effect: women taking control. When Megha Vishwanath, a young Delhi woman, felt a man press his erection against her back while she rode the metro, she decided to grab the man’s collar and drag him out of the train. “I could just bite the bullet and accept that I was eve teased or molested,” Vishwanath says on the street harassment website Hollaback! “Or I can raise my voice and instill the fear in the criminal instead of victimizing myself.”