In a first for India, yesterday Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje launched the Lady Patrol wing in Udaipur city. Encouraging the women, Raje said “the public specially young girls, women and elderly persons will feel more secure finding women cops around them. Ladies can walk up without hesitation to share whenever they encounter any awkward situation like ease teasing or passing of lewd comments by onlookers”.
The lady patrol team idea has been taken from other countries like Italy and China, where such teams have proven to be very successful. In the first phase in Udaipur, 23 lady cops have been trained for the task. Two cops each in 10 motorcycles would take the charge to patrol throughout the day in 8-8 hours shift. Three cops would be kept in reserve for emergency situations. These cops would be tasked with maintaining public order around the city, providing information and helping tourists in the area, discouraging ‘uncouth behaviour’ and attending to emergencies. The city has been divided into 5 beats with a Lady Patrol of two officers for each beat.
While it is interesting to note that women have been a part of the police force since pre-Independence, they constitute only 6% of the entire police force. According to the Bureau of Police Research and Development, Ministry of Home Affairs, about 14% of the police in Chandigarh are women. Tamil Nadu and Andaman & Nicobar Islands come next in the list (12% and 11%, respectively) while Meghalaya, Nagaland and Assam have the least number of women cops (below 3%). The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) notes in a report that in 2014, Haryana had doubled its woman police force, constituting 6.5% of the total force. Similarly, Rajasthan’s women force tripled between 2008 and 2014.
In this light, we would like to bring to light our recent project in collaboration with Hanns-Seidel Foundation “Safe City is a Smart City”. Under this, CSR aims to conduct gender sensitization trainings for different wings of the police force. The purpose is to create sensitized police cadres, who can provide protection and support to the female citizens.
However, while it is important to increase the intake of women into the police forces, it is also necessary to sensitize the forces regarding problems which are specific to women. Early this year, the 7th National Conference on Women in Police, jointly organised by the Bureau of Police Research and Development and CRPF, was held in Gurgaon, which brought to light some common problems faced by policewomen. These include lack of bathroom facilities, uncomfortable uniforms (designed with males in mind) and workplace harassment, among others. It is not just in India, even developed countries like United States of America, United Kingdom and Germany, have low numbers of women in law enforcement. It is definitely a global issue, and needs urgent attention, world over. The United Nations has off late been deploying women in its peacekeeping missions, and seeing the positive results, has increased the number of women deployed.
With increasing crimes against women, and an inherent hesitation among women to report crimes due to fear of police and social constraints, more women in the police force is the need of the hour. Currently, India has 548 all-women stations to make legal justice more accessible to women. A study found that with the increase in all-women police stations, the number of women coming forward to report crimes also went up. Tamil Nadu has the highest number of women-only police stations, followed by Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. Additionally, the work conditions must be conducive and favourable towards women, for them to be successful police officers.
Having women in the police force is an important aspect of India’s progress towards a gender-just society, as it gives the task of “protecting” to women, which is stereotypically assigned to males. Thus, we heartily support this move of Udaipur Police, and feel that other cities should also implement this soon.
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