Fewer women a big blot on khaki force

The huge gender disparity in the country’s police force, less than 4 per cent, has been affecting its efficiency.

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala has the highest sex ratio in the country at 1,084 females per 1,000 males and in terms of numbers, the state has 17,378,649 females as compared to 16,027,412 males. But when it comes to the police force, the state has one of the lowest representations of females, just about 5 per cent.

Even neighboring Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have more than 20 per cent women in the police force. While the new Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala has announced that by March, the state will have one all-woman police station each in six districts, there is still a long way to go.

Various reports in the past have emphasized on bringing women into the vanguard of policing activities. The National Centre for Women and Policing (NCWP) has pointed out that the low representation of women has a negative impact on the culture and operational efficiency of law enforcement agencies.

Similarly, the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) has also emphasized the need for raising the strength of women in the police force.

Last year, the Ministry of Home Affairs had directed all states to increase the representation of women in the police force to 30 per cent. But many of the states including Kerala are yet to implement the directive.

As per the norms finalized by the ministry, each police station is supposed to have three women SIs and 10 women police constables. This is to ensure that women helplines and women help desks functioned 24/7.

Experts say it is essential that women are visible in policing activities. But the general trend is to deploy women police personnel only for specific assignments like security checks.

“Women police carry out all the responsibilities like their male counterparts. They are sincere and dedicated. At the moment many of the duties are not assigned to them because of physical fitness reasons.

But with good physical training even they can perform their duties much more efficiently,”' said James Vadakumchery, Criminologist and author of ‘Police, Women and Gender Justice’.
Of the total strength of nearly 16 lakh police force in the country, the number of women is just about 85,000. When compared with the total sanctioned strength of 21.24 lakh, it is a poor 4 per cent.

Deployment of more police women in towns and cities will instil confidence especially in the wake of growing crimes against women and children in the country. “More than increasing the number of women police constables, direct recruitment of sub inspectors would be much more effective,” said Rejitha of Sakhi, an NGO which champions the cause of women.

According to her, even the uniform of women police in the state needs to be changed. They should dress like their male counterparts and also undergo physical training to look confident. At the moment they seem to be performing just a secondary role, she added.

The Government decision to directly recruit 200 women sub inspectors is expected to bring some change in the ground situation.

Next: ‘Women officers are always under lens’

‘Women officers are always under lens’

Letika Saran, IPS ,(former DGP, Tamil Nadu)

There is nothing extraordinary that a woman officer does compared to male officers. As head of the department, we only look at whether she is good at investigations, training or law and order. As far as the job is concerned, it is the same for both man and woman. But a woman heading department is still considered an oddity since the police force is a male-dominated segment.

So when a woman officer takes up a particular assignment she immediately comes under the microscope. At the level of IPS, women are 100 per cent accepted in investigation of crime, vigilance and administration.

But when it comes to law and order which a woman officer manages from ASP rank level, there is always this question - Can she handle it ? This question is particularly asked when the issue pertains to security.

The woman officer is always under the microscope - instead of 100 per cent she has to put in 150 per cent. But as a woman there is that edge of being sincere to job and the determination to do good work. Besides, most lady officers are empathetic while dealing with people. I am not saying that male officers do not have this attitude, but it is seen more among women officers.

In Tamil Nadu we set up all-women police stations in 1990's. Most of these stations deal with domestic problems and marital disputes. People come here to find an amicable solution to their problems. In fact women police personnel in these stations have taken up the role of counselors.

While criminal cases are registered in connection with domestic violence, on other issues the emphasis is always on resolving the matter amicably. Women police officers have learned the technique of counseling along with policing.

But apart from all-women police stations, women police personnel are also discharging all kinds of duties including traffic, bandobast and law & order duties. It's tough for women who are station in-charge as they have to manage both station and domestic responsibilities. More than 60 per cent of their job is of 24/7 in nature. It's not a 10 am to 5 pm job and handling both responsibilities requires lot of skill and hard work.

In police force, it is the rank that matters. You are not seen as a male or a female officer but as someone who holds a particular rank. Like everyone else, women also have to earn respect through their work.

I feel women representation in police force should ideally be somewhere around 30 per cent and perhaps it can be scaled up to 50 per cent later.

(As told to Gilvester Assary)

( Source : dc )
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