Women in khaki

Women in khaki

Though there has been a lot of talk about inducting more women in police forces, there is little progress on the ground. Their representation remains very low in all states.

According  to information recently given in Parliament,  there are only about 94,000 police women among about 17 lakh police personnel in the country. Some states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are better than others. Most have a token representation of only 1-2 per cent.  One state, Mizoram, did not have a single woman in its police force till recently, though there is a court ruling that women should be arrested only by women police personnel. Bihar has a low percentage but has taken a welcome decision to increase it to 35 per cent. It will take time to achieve the target but other states can also work towards it.

It is an accepted idea that any occupational segments that deals with people should be representative of the society. All sections of society like minorities and women and those belonging to different territories should have adequate presence in the forces for them to be most effective. The idea that policing is the prerogative of men is still strong. It has grown from a wrong notion that policing is all about physical strength and aggression.

Law and order functions in modern societies call for very different qualities. The misconception about women’s suitability for policing jobs has in any case been disproved by the performance of many women in the forces. In fact they can improve the efficiency levels of the forces and give them a more human face without compromising on effectiveness. It is also wrong to consider women police personnel as necessary and useful only in dealing with crimes against women. They should be trained in handling all situations that police personnel have to face and should be deployed in such situations. Greater numbers and better roles for women are not just politically correct gestures. They are professional imperatives.

All states should make sincere efforts to increase  the intake of women in the forces. It may also be a good idea to set a percentage in fresh recruitments, as Bihar has said it would. Apart from the good it would do to the forces, it will also open up large-scale opportunities for women to gain employment and empower themselves. The social benefits will also be considerable.