Women’s justice in India ‘strengthened by female police’ | News | Eco-Enterprise

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The presence of female police officers in police stations can facilitate access to the Indian justice system for women in a country notorious for its high rates of gender-based violence, according to the findings of a study to suggest.

India ranks 140 out of 156 countries on genre equality according to World Economic Forum. India has also, over the past 20 years, show a high and growing trend of domestic violence against women.

The study, published in July in Science, is based on a sample of 180 police stations serving 23 million people in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. These 180 stations were randomly assigned to three groups – 61 of them had regular female help desks, 59 had fully female-run help desks, and 60 were designated as controls with no help desks. assistance.

In India, the registration of cases, in the form of the formal filing of a first information report at a police station, allows a police officer to make arrests without a warrant from a magistrate and to initiate prosecutions. criminal. Case registration can also be done through a domestic incidence report, which initiates civil proceedings under the supervision of a magistrate.

Over the 11 months of the study, police stations with a help desk had nearly 2,000 more domestic incident reports and more than 3,300 more first information reports than police stations. without helpdesk. The increase in first information reports that led to criminal prosecutions was entirely due to helplines run by female agents.

“The substantial increase in case registrations – both civil and criminal – as a result of this intervention shows that with the right support and training, the police can indeed listen to women. » Sandip Sukhtankarauthor of the study and associate professor in the Department of Economics, University of VirginiaUS, tell SciDev.Net.

One might expect the attitude of a female police officer to be different as she better understands the magnitude of rape as a crime, as the fear of rape is an experience shared by all women.

Meera Khanna, Secretary, Guild for Service

Women in India face major barriers to registering cases, the study says. “Even when a woman overcomes social and family pressures to report a case, officers often resist recording her officially – despite their legal obligation to do so.”

Sukhtankar says registering cases is a small but important step in achieving justice for women victims of crime, adding that more efforts would be needed before women are comfortable approaching the police with complaints of criminal or civil violations.

Meera Khanna, secretary of the guild for servicea non-governmental organization that works for the empowerment of women and has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, says that crimes against women are generally not recorded by the police due to the patriarchal nature of Indian society and failure to implement police reforms as mandated by the Supreme Court 15 years ago.

“The socio-economic background of ordinary police officers, including those in charge of police stations, is such that they tend to downplay crimes against women, the majority of which are sexual rather than economic in nature,” says Khanna. .

“A typical police officer would consider murder a much worse crime than rape,” she adds. “But a female police officer’s attitude can be expected to be different as she better understands the magnitude of rape as a crime – because the fear of rape is a shared experience for all women.”

When women report crimes, police are often dismissive, guided by patriarchal norms, Khanna says. “The result is that the complainant ends up being re-victimized.”

Khanna says that while she is happy to hear that the Madhya Pradesh Police are planning to introduce women’s help desks in the state’s approximately 700 police stations, improving access to justice for women in a vast and diverse country like India is bound to be slow and unequal.

A sticking point is the role of the police. According to Khanna, the force suffers from a “colonial hangover” and still sees its primary function as maintaining public order and protecting politicians or high-ranking officials rather than investigating crimes.

“The findings provide concrete, actionable information for policy makers working to reduce violence against women,” says Shobhini MukerjiSouth Asia Executive Director of the Crime and Violence Initiative of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Labone of the main funders of the study with the World Bank Sexual Violence Research Initiative.

Crimes against women are a major obstacle to development, especially in low- and middle-income countries, adds Mukerji.

This article was originally published on SciDev.Net. Read it original article.

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