All Mouth And Trousers: Only 7% Women In State Police Force
The recruitment and postings, the promotion and training, sexual harassment, insufficient exposure, desk jobs and the lack of infrastructure—the constraints and limitations of being a female police officer are many, but let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
The Good News
The year: 2009. The government laid down 33 per cent as the benchmark target for women’s representation in the police to improve the “image” of the forces and to make the police station a “gender-sensitive place”.
Four years later, the Ministry of Home Affairs reiterated the target of 33 per cent reservation for women in the police. It also recommended that each police station has at least three women sub-inspectors and ten women police constables to ensure women help-desks are staffed at all times.
Further initiatives were taken in 2015—a proposal to create Investigative Units for Crimes against Women (IUCAW) at police stations in crime-prone districts across states. These units were to have 15 specialised investigators dealing specifically with crimes against women. And at least one-third of them will be women.
The Bad News
The policies had been made. The guidelines were there, on paper. But the target—well, that remains on paper as well.
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) report says that apart from the Union Territories, Bihar has adopted 38 per cent reservation while nine states have adopted 33 per cent (Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana). Ten states have set smaller targets while nine have not set a target at all.
However, according to the government data, women make up only 7.28 per cent of the total police strength in India.
Tamil Nadu has the maximum 15.97 per cent of women police officers. Himachal Pradesh (12.25%) and Maharashtra (11.62%) come a close second and third. Others have a long way to go—Assam, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar are at less than five per cent.
In militancy-affected Jammu and Kashmir, there are just 3.05 per cent women in a police force which has a sanctioned strength of more than 80,000 police personnel.
According to the latest report from the Bureau of Police Research and Development, there are a total of 613 women police stations in India, one in three of which is in Tamil Nadu.
The number of women police officers in the country did increase—a 14 per cent rise from 1,22,912 in 2015 to 1,40,184 in 2016—but most of these additions are at lower ranks, with very few at important operational positions such as officer in charge of districts or police stations.
In fact, a comparison of data shows that the ratio of gazetted to non-gazetted women officer stood at 1:115.82. As of January 2017, 1,200 women are executive/ managerial level public servants. A staggering 1,38,984 of them, however, are posted as Inspector, sub-inspector, assistant sub-inspector, constable and head constable.
- April 2011, Maharashtra. As many as 11 women constables alleged that their instructors sexually exploited them during their police training.
- In September 2016, a total of 24 policewomen accused an inspector-level officer in the Delhi police of sexual harassment at the workplace.
- In November 2017, a Madhya Pradesh additional superintendent of police (ASP) was arrested for assaulting a subordinate female police constable.
According to the Fountain Ink investigation, sexual assault and harassment in police forces is startlingly frequent. It often goes unreported—it’s hushed up, more often than not—and even when the victims persist, justice remains elusive.
Now that we know of the deficit of diversity and design of policing in India, here’s looking at some crime statistics.
According to the NCRB data, overall crimes against women rose from 3,29,243 incidents in 2015 to 3,38,954 incidents in 2016. The year 2015 saw the registration of 34,651 cases of rape in the country and the figure increased to 38,947 in 2016.
The majority of cases categorised as crimes against women were reported under cruelty by the husband or his relatives, followed by assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty, kidnapping and abduction and rape.