|Demand of the question|
Introduction. Contextual introduction.
Body. Discuss the need of increasing the number of women recruits and institutional changes required in police.
Conclusion. Way forward.
National Crime Record Bureau report shows stark increase in violence against women in India. According to it, crimes against women have more than doubled over the past 10 years. The gender sensitivity deficit in the police functioning in India is one of the causes. There is a culture of masculinity in police itself where the acceptance of both the woman as victim and as a woman per se is counter intuitive. This needs to be changed.
Need of increasing the number of women recruits in police:
- Less policewomen: According to statistics, policewomen constitute only 7.13% (5,356) of 75,169 police personnel in Delhi. Of these women, 90% are constables, while less than 1% hold supervisory positions. The numbers are low despite 20 states having reservations for women in the police.
- State variations: Despite the Centre targeting 33% of women in police forces, only four states and four UTs had over 10% of women in police forces. In New Delhi, just 7% of police officers are women, and they are frequently given inconsequential posts that don’t involve patrol duty, according to the Times of India.
- Involvement in crime: In a response to an RTI query, it was revealed that approximately 100 policeman were found to be involved in rape in the past 10 years. To make matters worse, it was recently reported that a sub-inspector of an area (Saket) was involved in rape on the pretext of marriage.
- Reporting: Because of several social factors, women are afraid to report crime. In view of the above, there is need for police and judiciary to act in a gender sensitive manner in all cases relating to violence against women. Women generally feel more comfortable about approaching police manned by women, rather than regular police stations, especially for women-related problems.
- Indifferent attitude: Indifferent police and judiciary response and fear of police deny women the access to justice. Women’s presence in police and judiciary need to be increased to make justice less fearful and less differential.
- Compassionate: Women are compassionate, emotional and nonviolent in general. These traits can enhance the quality and efficiency of a department as they are quick to respond to crimes against women and children. They can be helpful in creating an excellent work environment within the police organization.
Although increasing policewomen is must, there are issues faced by policewomen and need to instil some institutional changes in police to cater to the needs of women in the society.
Issues faced by women in police force:
- Reservation policy: While States adopt the reservation policy, they are very selective about its implementation. Very few States apply reservation for women at all the entry points (constable, sub-inspector, and deputy superintendent of police levels) or to all posts at each level.
- Working challenges: Frequent inter-district transfers and disallowing postings in home districts for specified periods of time coupled with poor childcare support systems and lack of adequate facilities and infrastructure present distinct difficulties for women.
- Disparity: There is huge disparity in the representation of women across ranks. There are far fewer women at the gazetted ranks at the State level than those at the constabulary level. While this is not a negative in itself, in the absence of institutional support, women remain in large numbers at the bottom of the ladder without moving up.
- Sexual harassment: Sexual harassment at the workplace that policewomen suffer is not adequately acknowledged.
- Masculinity: There is also a lack of proper awareness of the prevailing gender inequalities among police officers. Even if there is awareness, the cult of masculinity prevailing in the police organizations does not easily permit a change in the attitude and behaviour of male police personnel toward women.
Institutional changes required in police:
- Gender sensitisation: It is for police to act as an agent of change and engender gender sensitivity starting with their own ranks.
- Uniform reservation policy: There is a need to adopt a uniform reservation policy among all states with reservation in promotion.
- Better response: In spite of growing crime, the police response to violence against women and judiciary apathy continues to be grossly inappropriate. Police must work to change this attitude and work towards better response in general.
- Women specific institutions: There is a need to create women police stations and more women should be taken as judges.
- Separate wing: A separate wing of police may be opened for dealing with women’s issues, in all police stations and personnel of this wing should be exempted from other duties.
Thus, increasing the number of recruits alone will not be enough. Institutional changes embedded in principles of diversity, inclusion and equality of opportunities are as important. Otherwise, discrimination and exclusion will continue to persist even as the numbers of women increase. It is about time we bring a change in the society and show the much deserved respect to an Indian policewoman. There is a need to involve more women as it would help in ushering an era of women participation and gender sensitisation across the two institutions of justice.