‘Women police personnel face bias’

They make up just 6.1 per cent of the force, report says

August 19, 2015 01:11 am | Updated March 29, 2016 04:02 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Women in India’s police forces face bias from male and sometimes female counterparts and superiors who consider them weak, less willing to work and less tough, a new report says. While more women are urgently needed in the police forces, the numbers alone will not be enough without equity, the report says.

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju and Aruna M. Bahuguna, Director of the National Police Academy, will release the report by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) on women police in South Asia on Wednesday. The report examines the situation of women in the police forces in the Maldives, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.

While the number of women in the police forces nationally has grown in India, it remains just over 6 per cent. There is a wide variation between the States, with 12 per cent of Tamil Nadu’s police force being women as against less than 1 per cent in Assam. This is despite the fact that 12 States have over the years passed rules setting a quota of 30 per cent or more for women in the police force.

“The problem is even if implemented, this only applies to the small number of posts that become vacant every year with retirements. What we had proposed after the December 2012 gang rape was for 10,000 women to be hired at one go in each of the metros — that would have made a real impact,” said Kanwaljit Deol, who was secretary and chair of the National Conference of Women in Police.

Kamal Kumar, former Director of the National Police Academy, said he had worked out that India needed 3.3 lakh more police persons to allow fixed eight-hour shifts for the personnel. “I proposed that this entire number be recruited from among women only, which would have also raised the proportion of women in the police force to 19 per cent,” Mr. Kumar said.

The women police persons in five States with whom in-depth interviews were conducted as part of the study spoke of the absence of toilets and other facilities and child-care support, in addition to persistent and widespread bias, said Devika Prasad, co-editor of the study. In most States, there was no common cadre for male and female police recruitment and this had a knock-on effect on promotions, she said. Women police persons were relegated to dealing with crimes against women and accompanying women prisoners. “What is needed is not a mere increase in numbers, but an increase in the welcome of women,” said Maja Daruwala, director, CHRI.

“In Kerala, we introduced the first all-women police station in 1973,” said Jacob Punnoose, former State Police Chief. “However, the concept did not work and was against the interests of women as it segregates them. We abandoned this route in 2003 and have moved to ensure there is a woman in every police station. This has also had a very beneficial impact on male policing,” Mr. Punnoose said.

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