Demanding a change in dress code for women in the police force, policewomen attending the 10th National Conference of Women in Police called their existing uniforms – khaki trousers and shirts – a gender-insensitive relic of India’s colonial past.
The two-day conference, which was inaugurated by Union minister of state for home affairs, Nityanand Rai, took up different gender-specific issues faced by women on the force. As many as 163 delegates from across India attended the conference.
“From uniforms, to body gear and washrooms, the entire police infrastructure has been designed to facilitate men. Despite gender budgeting, women officials have been deprived of basic gender-specific requirements,” said additional director general of police (ADGP, anti-corruption and vigilance bureau) Satwant Atwal Trivedi.
Urging policewomen to speak up, ADGP (training), Madhya Pradesh, Anuradha Shankar, said, “Colonial methods in terms of infrastructure and uniform still dominate the Indian Police.”
Sonal Chandra, a 2008-batch Indian Police Service Officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre, held forth on protecting women from sexual harassment at the workplace. She discussed the current status of POSH ( Prevention of Sexual Harassment) committees, regulation and compliance mechanism of such committees and the road ahead for strengthening POSH committees to save women from sexual harassment at the workplace.
Citing the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), IPS officer Nipuna Torawane (Gujarat), said 76% women do not report sexual abuse, and only 14% seek the police help. In 95% cases, the offenders are known to the victim, while in 6-7% cases the abusers are blood relations, she said
Underlining that the majority of crimes against women go unreported, Torawane said, “The police are evaluated on the basis of whether they have been able to curb crimes against women. However, only the tip of the iceberg is reported.”
She added that awareness programmes should be organised to encourage women to ‘cry for help’, and the women who do come to police stations should be heard empathetically.
Women in the police can play a vital role in women empowerment: Jai Ram
Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur, who hosted a dinner for the participants of the conference on Sunday, said women empowerment was essential for bringing a change in society and women in the police could prove to be a catalyst in the direction.
He said it was a matter of pride that the percentage of women in the police and other armed forces had increased by 2-3 % over the last eight years.