Activists’ calls for reforms in Mumbai Police force wants them to be gender sensitive.
Mumbaikars are finding it difficult to file complaints with the police due to hostile environment prevailing in police stations. Many times it has been observed that police don’t cooperate with women when they approach them to file complaints pertaining to rape, molestation. Students of St Xavier’s College visited various police stations in the city and learnt that many police personnel are often unaware about which IPC sections should be applicable to the various types of crimes committed by miscreants. Police also say since white collar crimes are increasing, therefore many of them are not conversant with laws pertaining to such crimes. Very few police stations personnel have had re-fresher courses. They are also not aware of the changes like the new Maharashtra Police Amendment and Ordinance, Act 2014 or any other developments.
When we spoke to a communication student from St Xavier’s College she said, “I along with my male friend were waiting for another friend to join us. We were sitting and having a conversation as a cop arrived and asked us ‘What are you people doing in a public place and threatened to file charges against us for explicit behaviour. My friend actually had to bribe him to get himself out of trouble.”
Another student hailing from Delhi shared her experience which was even more provoking and shocking. She said, “We five girls and two boys, were driving towards a Paratha Dhaba in Delhi. Suddenly a Traffic Police officer arrived and asked us, what you girls are doing in a car, dressed so indecently? Since we were in school we became frightened and didn’t have money. The official slapped our male friend and also insulted us. He then left after learning that he won’t receive any bribe from us.”
Thought some students also shared a different and good experience. A student said, “I was standing on a railway platform, and a guy was harassing me as I became frightened. A cop intervened at the right time and caught that guy.”
Angad Thakur, Nikita Noronha and Aishwarya Sawarna Communication students spoke about the need to deploy more women police officers in the department. They said that the department needs to be more women friendly. Women generally don’t relate to male police officials who speak rudely and are not polite with them. When a higher ranking female officer is incharge of the male dominated department the male officers are mainly not at ease, which is prevalent in our socio-cultural environment a norm which needs to be changed.
A student spoke about the insensitive questions which are asked by male officers to a women complainant while filling a complaint. Often it has been observed that male officers remain insensitive towards women when they approach them to file cases pertaining to rape, harassment or sexual violence which needs to be reviewed. There should be a comfort zone, or a place where woman can speak without people staring at her in the police station.
“We need more police officers in our country. Right now we have two women officers for fifty women. Which is shameful said” Surmina Patekar, Lady Constable
“Women are scaling new heights these days right from owning a business to becoming CEO of companies but they have negative mindset about police department. Women should break the shackles, come forth, and join the police force” said Vidya Gopi Gokhale, Lady Inspector “The nature of cases today seek more women officers; men, given their sensitivity cannot handle many of the cases said, Divya Singh (Name changed) Lady Inspector.
Amanpreet Bagga, a student studying Public Relations said, “This Project is very innovative way to bridge the gap between the police and citizens. It also familiarizes the students with the workload and functioning of the police department.”
“This initiative benefits the students as well as the police. It helps us develop a healthy relationship with the youngsters, said Rajkumar Kothmire”, Senior Inspector, LT Marg.
Rushila Rebello, a Women rights activist said, “Women need to be taken into confidence when they approach the police for filing complaints. They worry and feel more insecure and unfriendly in custody of police.”