Women aren’t joining the Indian police force and that is the reality. They are either unaware or are unwilling because a meagre 7.10% women make up the police force in all, as opposed to men. This data was released as on January 1, 2016. But even after the government sitting up and making efforts to bring more women into the police force, the situation is yet to improve.
Long hours, harassment at times and investigating rape and murder cases in unsafe places are a norm for women in police force. The facilities are not women-friendly and neither are the male officers.
“Vardi ek aisi cheez hai jo hume safe rakti hai (Our uniform keeps us safe). We receive respect as long as we’re in our uniform,” a woman cop, who was earlier with the Delhi Police but now works with the Uttar Pradesh Police, reported DNA.
During a Lok Sabha meeting earlier this year, Minister of State for Home Hansraj G Ahir took this matter up and said that the Union ministry had issued advisories in 2009 and 2012 to “all the state governments and Union Territories administrations to increase the strength of women police personnel up to 33 per cent of the total strength”. He has asked all state governments to immediately create additional posts of women constables and sub-Inspectors by converting the vacant posts of male constables into posts of women constables.
About the fact that there are less number of women in the police force and handling tough cases of rape and women’s murder, a woman inspector in a south Delhi police station said, “Men cannot handle certain cases. We need to be present in the office for that. We ensure that happens, in order to be able to serve our country and force,” adding that long hours are a norm for her.
She added, “I’ve seen serving women feel harassed often. Since we are few in number, sometimes we are made to do things we don’t want to. Sometimes, we are sent to places we don’t want to go to. If we refuse, our salaries are cut..”
Another woman constable, who has now served the Delhi Police for almost 18 years, said that when she joined the system, there was only one woman constable against 100 male ones. However, she does not feel much has changed even now. “We face a lot of problems in our line of work. Our work demands that we be present at any hour of the day, if required. There have been times when I have worked for 24-48 hours at a stretch,” she said.
“When we had joined the force, we felt confident. But after working for years, we’ve realised that even we are unsafe at times. It is only the uniform that keeps us safe,” said the constable who has been in service for 18 years.
Besides, women in uniform cannot even take leaves during Indian holidays as that is the time most crimes of harassment and molestation happen.
While Delhi has a decent number of female police constables, it is the smaller cities that require them the most. Because many crimes go unnoticed and unreported, having more female constables in smaller cities and tier two and three cities will empower women to report incidents of crime more comfortably.
Picture credit- Matrabhoomi