A grand total of only 5,273 or 7.06 percent women personnel are serving in special units of security forces out of 74,651 total personnel working as of January 1, 2018. These special units comprise of anti-terror and organised crime, crime branch or Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Special Branch in state police forces. The latest government data has revealed that there are only 447 women police personnel in anti-terror squads, 2,502 in crime branch and another 2,324 in special branches.

While government over the past few years have opened services in combat roles to women and has championed the cause of 33% reservation for women in security forces, the gender gap is closing in at a snail’s pace in this sector. Currently, there are only 8.73 percent or 1.69 lakh women personnel against 19.41 lakh male personnel. The number of women has increased from 1.22 lakh in 2015 and 1.40 lakh in 2016 but the growth is barely visible.

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The report says that women in uniform are discriminated against as they don’t get challenging assignments as often as men do.

The data on Police Organisations 2018 by Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) shows that three states top the list of having the most number of women personnel in special units and they are Maharashtra (1,348), Uttar Pradesh (659) and Karnataka (300). But no woman leads any such force in the rank of Director General or Additional Director General.

“It is essential that women are visible at the cutting-edge level of the public interface. There is a tendency to engage women police only in situations like security checks and other specialised duties relating to women, but unless they are assigned mainstream duties in the police stations, there would not be the adequate impact on the community,” the report said.

While the total strength of the anti-terror squad is 27,358 personnel only 447 women are posted in anti-terror squad up until 2017, the 2017 data actually showed a 65.55 percent rise since 2016 where there were only 270 women in police forces.

The report found, “Twenty-seven per cent participants felt that in some case they are assigned less important post or duties just because of their gender…most of the senior women police officers have this feeling…that their professionalism is not considered.”

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In May this year, Gujarat’s all-women anti-terror squad nabbed a feared criminal, Jusaab Allrakha. The team comprised of 30-year-old Santok Odedra (Police Sub-Inspector heading the team), Nitmika Gohil (34), Aruna Gameti (40), Shakuntala Mal (29) along with a male officer Jignesh Agrawat. “All of these brave officers had been assisting in many cases and helped crack a lot of them as well. We don’t discriminate on whether it is a woman officer or a male officer,” ATS deputy inspector general (DIG) Himanshu Shukla told DNA. These officers belong to the first batch of women trained in anti-terror operations and posted in the Anti-Terrorism Squad.

While government over the past few years have opened services in combat roles to women and has championed the cause of 33% reservation for women in security forces, the gender gap is closing in at a snail’s pace in this sector.

The women officers did ballistic training for one year before joining the police service. “We have been trained to handle all kinds of automatic and semi-automatic weapons in the police academy. We were also trained to survive in forest areas with minimum resources. This training came in handy in the operation. Even in the ATS, we get trained on a continuous basis and the women officers are as prepared as the men,” Mal told Indian Express.

Picture credit: IB Times

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