Indian women are breaking stereotypes and flipping the gender scales wherever they go. Public transport drivers, jockeys, sportswomen, business entrepreneurs, bike riders – they’re challenging patriarchy and proving that they too can join spaces previously dominated by men.
Women in the police force of India are no exception either. Every day, they battle gender restraints, lack of proper training and recruitment facilities, and the evil face of patriarchy. And yet, the 1 lakh-strong women police force know that they’re paving the way for more success and inspiring other women to join the force.
Even before independence, women have always been a part of the police force
The first ever woman police officer in India was recruited to Kerala’s Travancore Royal Police in 1933. Five years later, an all women-police station was set up there, while still in service of royalty. Post independence, in 1948, a female ASI and two female head constables were recruited to the Delhi police force. Soon, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh followed suit. Kiran Bedi was the first woman IPS officer to be appointed in 1972. Indira Gandhi inaugurated a full fledged woman-only police station in Kozhikode, Kerala, in 1973.
Police women are a crucial part of the force, especially with rising rates of crimes against women and children
They can be trained to be more sensitive and objective when it comes to crimes against women, while also encouraging women citizens to report crimes. The amendments made to tighten laws against rape and sexual offences have strengthened a woman police officer’s importance within the force. Their exclusive functions include recording statements from female victims and being present during registration of complaints.
Women cops make up 6% of the force, and Chandigarh tops the list
While women cops make up to only 6% of the entire police force, their numbers have only recently increased. 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.
They fight and overcome gender bias at every level
The increase in numbers has been gradual owing to many constraints. For instance, it is tough for women to be considered for promotions to higher ranks, which is why many women remain at the constable level. Gender specific cadres at the recruitment level also limit their growth opportunities. While policemen go from constable to the sub-inspector level, women are usually promoted to head constable. If not constable, then women are given desk roles, and not field policing. According to the data from CHRI, women constitute 16 out of 396 posts for DGP, DG and ADGP, while there are 1234 women inspectors, out of 31,000. Women are recruited as Station Head Officers (SHO) mostly in women-only stations.
Reservation for women in the police force: 33%
To fix the skewed representation of women, the government has announced a 33% reservation for women in the police force. Many state governments have also carried out extensive recruitment drives.
All-women police stations make legal justice more accessible to women
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.
After Kiran Bedi, many more policewomen came to limelight for their commendable work
Kanchan Chaudhary Bhattacharya was the first woman to be promoted to Director General of Police. In 2001, Mumbai’s Meera Borwankar became the first woman to be head of the Crime Branch. Vimla Mehra was the first woman to be appointed as Special Commissioner Police, and was also instrumental in launching 1901, the helpline for women.]]>