Inspired by Gujarat government, Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi wrote to chief ministers of all states to take inspiration from Gujarat's decision to enforce 33% reservation for women in the police force as part of efforts to empower them.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was quick to react to these instructions and said it will soon raise the reservation limit in State police force from the current 10 per cent to 30 per cent.
Women representation in police force has been uneven from the past. In 2011, Mizoram had no woman in its force and Uttar Pradesh just had 2,354 women personnel in 2011 of a total of 1.87 lakh.
At present, women constitute only 5.33% of total police forces in India
Not only women force even the number of women police stations across the country have also been disappointing. According to the Bureau of Police Research & Development (BPR&D) data, there were just 442 women police stations across India as on January 1, 2011. Tamil Nadu had 196 women police stations, Uttar Pradesh had 71, Andhra Pradesh (32), Gujarat (31), Rajasthan (24), Jharkhand (22), Madhya Pradesh (9), Punjab (5), Chhattisgarh (4) and Haryana (2).
The facts and figures
As per a report in ET, a count by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) reveals that there are only 84,479 women cops in India against total police strength of 15.85 lakh. The highest number of women cops are in Maharashtra (20,062) followed by Tamil Nadu (10,118) and Delhi (5,356).
The proportion is extremely skewed in States like UP, which has just 2,586 women cops out of its strength of 1.73 lakh cops while Madhya Pradesh Police has just 3,010 women cops among its strength of 76,000 cops.
And more alarming is the fact that the situation at top ranks of the force is even worse as the BPR&D claims that just 16 women cops are in the ranks of Director-General of Police or Special DG. If we talk about the figures in entire country then there are just 24 women in the ranks of an Inspector-General of Police.
These figures clearly suggest that there a big gap between male and female personnel employed in the police forces which needs to be bridged.
Having more women in the Indian police force will make women feel safer and will also help in representing women's interests and points of view.
With increasing numbers, these things are also needed
By merely increasing the numbers will not really be a help to the cause. Women in the force should also get proper training, support and confidence to put them at par with their male counterparts in the same force and even promotional opportunities should be made equally available to them.
They should also be sensitized how to deal with cases of crimes against women. It should also be ensured that women police force does not get restricted in dealing women specific crimes.
It is being anticipated that with this increase in number of women in the police force, it will help in encouraging the victims of assault against women to lodge complaints and will also help in proper investigation of such cases. Today also women cops comprise a dismal 3-4 per cent of total police force in India that stands at around 15 lakh. If countries like US, UK and Thailand can become best examples of effective policing by women, why can't India become one?
At a time when the figures of crime against women are reaching north, this step is the need of the hour. It will not only help in empowering the women but will also help in creating an environment for women to access police stations with less diffidence.