AHMEDABAD: They represent women’s empowerment. The 3800 or so women in the state’s police force, wearing khaki, carrying firearms, patrolling roads and investigating cases are not less in ability and authority than their male counterparts. But their being cops does not shield them from problems faced by working women in general.
A recently released book, ‘Indian Policewomen in New Millennium’, by researcher couple Dr Pavithran Nambiar and Dr Suhas Nambiar highlights the fact that 17% of policewomen studied had admitted that they had undergone sex determination test while 5% said they had experienced sexual harassment at the workplace. (Dr Pavithran is assistant professor while Dr Suhas is a visiting faculty at Gujarat Forensic Sciences University, Gandhinagar.)
Further, the book says that 3% women cops were themselves victims of domestic violence and another 20% said that they knew policewomen who were victims.
“In 1995, I had taken up the first-of-its-kind study on women in khaki for my doctoral research,” Pavithran Nambiar said. “At that time, I was trying to understand what had made the women choose the police for a career, and also the problems that they faced. I had taken a sample size of 100 from the rank of inspector to constable from four commissionerates (Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot). Exactly two decades after, we decided to revisit the subject,” Pavithran said.
The new study, however, began with a larger respondent base. It talked to 204 respondents from the rank of DSP to constable from four commissionerates, six districts, State Reserve Police (SRP), CID (crime), CID (IB) and wireless communication department. Apart from the old questions, the researchers also sought information about factors such as work condition, health awareness and stress.
“The study highlighted that, compared to 1995, the current lot of policewomen is more educated and has better support from family members, especially their husbands,” Suhas said.
“However, 80% said that their opinion does not hold any value at workplace and 50% said that their work has no clear objective. For a majority of respondents, long working hours and inability to spend adequate time with family members was a major source of stress,” Suhas Nambiar said.