The lack of women in the po­lice force is wor­ry­ing

Bet­ter rep­re­sen­ta­tion will make polic­ing more ef­fec­tive and hu­mane

Hindustan Times (Gurgaon) - - Comment -

The po­lice is one of the most im­por­tant in­sti­tu­tions in any so­ci­ety, and must be rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the so­ci­ety that it is tasked with pro­tect­ing. Data from the Bu­reau of Po­lice Re­search and De­vel­op­ment has re­vealed that women ac­count for only 7.28% of all po­lice per­son­nel. At the top, the num­bers are even more dis­mal, with less than 1% of se­nior po­si­tions be­ing oc­cu­pied by women. Even as the rate of crimes against women has in­creased, the glar­ing lack of women po­lice per­son­nel raises im­por­tant ques­tions about ef­fec­tive polic­ing in so­ci­ety.

A 2015 Commonwealth Hu­man Rights Ini­tia­tive (CHRI) re­port ti­tled ‘Rough Roads to Equal­ity: Women Po­lice in South Asia’ found that in Jhark­hand, the state po­lice man­ual it­self sub­or­di­nates the role of women . It spec­i­fies that women of­fi­cers “are not to be sub­sti­tuted” for male of­fi­cers but must only be de­ployed for spe­cific tasks that women “could per­form more ef­fec­tively and with greater ad­van­tage than male po­lice.” Such in­sti­tu­tion­alised prej­u­dice is one of the rea­sons why a ca­reer in the po­lice is unattrac­tive to women. For there to be ef­fec­tive polic­ing, it would be use­ful to keep in mind what the po­lice re­former and for­mer Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Sir Robert Peel said: “The po­lice are the pub­lic and the pub­lic are the po­lice.”

Polic­ing, to em­u­late the Peel­ian model, must be done with the con­sent and re­spect of the com­mu­nity, rather than by force. In such a model, rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the po­lice force of the re­li­gions, castes, and gen­ders of so­ci­ety is vi­tally im­por­tant. Gen­der equal­ity in polic­ing will go a long way in re­in­forc­ing trust in the po­lice within women in par­tic­u­lar. The tra­di­tional pa­tri­ar­chal no­tion that po­lice work is a man’s job con­tin­ues to re­main en­trenched in so­ci­ety. This re­port must serve as a wake-up call for se­nior au­thor­i­ties within the po­lice and pol­icy mak­ers in gov­ern­ment to re­alise that bet­ter rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the po­lice force will only con­tribute to mak­ing polic­ing more ef­fec­tive and more hu­mane.

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