It is time now for women to play tough cops in India. With the Modi government sending out advisories to Union Territories (UTs), asking them to ensure 33% reservation for women in their respective police force, women in khaki uniforms may become a familiar sight in the Indian police stations. The decision has come barely days after Delhi announced its decision to hold an all-women recruitment exam in the capital city on July 13 in order to fill 2000 vacancies for executive constables in its police squad.
The gender gap in the Indian Police Force has been a part of the public discourse since 1933 when the kingdom of Travancore (present Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala) appointed women as Special Police Constables for the first time in the country.
However, the process of giving greater representation to women in the force has been moving at a snail’s pace all these years. Women form only 5.33% of the 1585117-strong Indian Police Force. In the list of seven union territories, Chandigarh tops the list in female representation, with 16.18% of its police force comprising women followed by Andaman and Nicobar Islands at 10.70% and Lakshadweep at 10.52%. The national capital, on the other hand, has a mere 7.61% of the positions in its police force occupied by females.
The need to improve the gender ratio in the Indian police force has been a pressing concern in the country ever since the rape of a 23-year old physiotherapy student in New Delhi in 2012. The shocking incident sparked national outrage and galvanized the country’s leadership to nurture a female-friendly police force and to encourage women to join the law-enforcement agency. Many of these plans, however, remained on the paper, and never saw the light of day. With the new dispensation in New Delhi pushing the envelope, the gender ratio in the Indian Police Force looks set to improve.
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