The Sunday Story 13 States and Union Territories have no all-woman police stations

The induction of more women in the police force has been acknowledged as an essential component of the ongoing police reform efforts in India. Beyond making their presence felt in the force, thus encouraging more women to access its services without inhibition, it should serve as a precursor to many other positive outcomes in the policing process.

However, since the time the princely state of Travancore appointed women as Special Police Constables in 1933 for the first time in modern India, progress on this front has been tardy. While repeated recommendations state that women should account for at least a third of the civil police force up to the level of sub-inspectors, as of 2011, of a total of 16.6 lakh personnel, only 93,887 were women. This accounted for a mere 5.65 per cent, marking an increase of 4.6 percentage points over two decades since 1991.

Among the States, Maharashtra has made a late surge. As of 2011, in absolute terms, it had the highest number of women personnel, doubling the number in two years since 2009. It had 12,813 women in 2009 and the number doubled to 24,219 in 2011, which is 13.2 per cent of the 1.82 lakh-strong force. Tamil Nadu, an early starter, followed with the figure of 15,864, also having doubled the number in the two-year period. Yet, at the other end of the spectrum is Mizoram, with not one woman in a force of 10,861 and the Union Territory of Daman and Diu.

Likewise, the representation of women in the Central police forces remains dismal. Women personnel and officers constituted a mere 2 per cent of the more than two lakh troopers recruited by paramilitary forces in the last three years and in the initial few months of 2013. While 20,73,48 personnel were recruited in various ranks in the CRPF, the BSF, the ITBP, the SSB, the CISF, Assam Rifles and so on between 2010 and 2013, the number of women among them was a mere 4,733.

Moreover, 13 States and Union Territories have no all-woman police stations. According to data from the Bureau of Police Research and Development, there were just 442 such police stations across India as on January 1, 2011. Tamil Nadu had the maximum number of stations (196), followed by Uttar Pradesh (71). Beyond the numbers, for the women who are already in, there is a range of issues that need to be addressed to mainstream and empower them for the full gamut of policing functions. A lot remains to be done also in terms of working conditions and facilities that are oriented to their needs.

It is a long haul ahead to correct the gender imbalance in policing.

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