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Number of women cops far off the official mark

India on 02 September 2013
Location : India | Source : DNA India. Image Source: Edson Walker

Plans to have more women in the police force across the country remain only on paper even eight months after a woman was gang-raped in a moving bus in Delhi. 

The Union home ministry has sent several advisories and reminders to state governments, asking them to increase the women representation in the police force to 33% as the second administrative reforms commission too had recommended. 

Conceding that the advisories have had little impact, a home ministry official said: “The only plausible reason could be a bias against women in states with a patriarchal mindset.”

The representation of women is just 1.49% in UP, 2.18% in Bihar, 2.27% in Andhra Pradesh, and 3.93% in Madhya Pradesh. 

Kiran Bedi, the country’s first woman IPS officer, said better women representation in the police would not only give a sense of safety and confidence to women but it would also go a long way in breaking the myth of male superiority.

The only states that have tried to change the status quo are Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Bihar is the first state to announce 35% reservation for women in police recruitments. The state will launch a massive drive to recruit 43,000 women in the next five years.

Tamil Nadu is the first and the only state to have the highest number of women police stations, some even at the sub-district level. 

Maharashtra with 14.89% has the highest representation of women in the police force. It is expected to touch 30% in the next five years. At present, the state has 20,062 policewomen — the highest in the country. 

The British had recognised the need for all-woman police stations and they set up the first such station in the country in Kerala’s Travancore in 1938. In 1948 the Delhi police recruited one ASI and two head constables to check trafficking.
In 1950, UP recruited women in the police, followed by Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

But the growth of women in the police remained stunted. As per the latest data, all India average representation of women in the polices is a meagre 5.33% or 84,479 policewomen against an actual strength of 15.85 lakh police force in the country. 

When compared to the total sanctioned strength of 21.24 lakh, it averages a low of 4%. In comparison, the international average percentage of women in the police is about 15%, in the middle and higher income group countries.

While the number of all-woman police stations in the country has increased from 342 in 2010 to 500 in 2012, Maharashtra still has to open its account. Tamil Nadu leads the tally with 196, followed by UP with 71, Bihar with 40, Andhra Pradesh with 32, Gujarat with 31 and Rajasthan with 29. Even Arunachal Pradesh has an all-woman police station.

Until states come up with specific plans for the safety of women and utilise the Rs1,000-crore Nirbhaya Fund, the home ministry wants states to make a small beginning by converting vacant posts for males constables into posts for woman constables. “Each police station should have at least three woman sub-inspectors and 10 woman constables; so that a woman help desk is manned round the clock,” the home ministry said in its advisory.

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