Haven’t we at some point been asked or heard someone being asked questions like – “Why were you out at an odd hour?” “Why were you out with a guy at night?” “Why were you out alone?” It also manifests into our daily life in the form of those several fearful calls that we get from our parents as the night falls. But all the questions run back to women.
It’s the premise that social, political and behavioral roles, even insecurities and vulnerabilities are gendered. There is a stark difference between the encounter of police personnel with men as opposed to women. Gender Sensitive Training (GTI) of police analysis the loopholes so as to reform the processes, which in turn ensures gender equality principles being integrated institutionally at all levels of police training. Our institutions comprise of people from the society itself and hence, the same innate constructed gender stereotypes are narrated in their perceptions, behavior and approach.
It’s difficult to change perceptions in a night’s time, as women are looked upon as trespassers in public spaces. For men in uniform to be seen at par with such affirmation would require time, and one cannot just be ideally sitting while winter turns to spring. The toolkit then, for the police service would be to increase the representation of women, not just because of the presence of a female police office would provide a sense of security to women and children, but will also further the cause of standing for one’s own rights, where the women in uniform act as role models for gender equality, inspiring many others like them.
Why gender-sensitive behavior is paramount as an approach for the police?
Police station is one of the first points of contact for any victim. Gender-Sensitive Training deems to be important so as to be aware and sensitized on how to deal with the victims/survivors and provide them with adequate support. In many cases, like that of rape or domestic violence some information might even be camouflaged. The training ground which teaches effective and compassionate response to specific needs of men and women, not just leads to extracting maximum information, but also towards building non-discriminatory police institutions, which furthers the cause and service of enhancing and embracing inclusion.
The police are not meant to unleash their storm at the drop of a hat. It’s toxic masculinity that thrusts anger and violence as the default setting. The wise shall always be compassionate, to be able to seek, listen and learn, with the ones coming to them for help and also with the ones raising their voices on real issues.
The source & spirit with which we receive another person’s story emanates trust and affirmation and the entire process not only deconstructs the entire paradigm of managing and perpetuating status-quo, but also acts as a ground of positive and inclusive change which (will) gradually seep into institutional changes.