By Renu Rakesh,Womens Feature Service
Indian police women feels the joy and pride for making it into the police force.Women in the constables is a rare sight.But cited records of horrific consequences like abuse and murders of police women alarms the public recently.The risk of discharging their duties at odd hours surrounded by foul mouthed and drunk colleagues is high. Sexual harassment is inevitable especially in a working environment where men dominate.
One record of gruesome murder is that of one young female constable who obtained five stabs on her body, three on the neck and one on each breast. There were two gaping cuts on her head. Her fingers were chopped off and a bunch of hair was yanked out of her scalp. It was indeed the most brutal murder.Two policemen had raped and killed young constable Maya Yadav, 22, in a police guesthouse room at the Chechat police station in Kota district.
Prior to the murder,Yadav had finished her duty at 6.30 pm on September 29, 2010. She saw driver-constable Deshraj, 35, going to the market to fix the tires of a police jeep. She wanted to pick up some groceries so she hitched a ride with him. After returning from the market around 7.30 pm, Yadav went to her room, 20 metres from the police station. In an hour, she reported back for wireless duty. Later, she retired for the day at 10 pm.
Meanwhile, Deshraj, who had left for night patrol with another constable, returned with liquor. He was joined by the police station cook, Tulsiram Rathore, 25, in a drinking session. The room they were drinking in was separated from Yadav’s room by a small pantry and a toilet.
No one knows when the two drunk cops decided to kill Yadav in cold blood.A constable was sent to her room on the next morning when she did not report for duty where her mutilated body was discovered. When the news spread around Chechat, the 700-year-old village was filled with outrage. A mob of 500 gathered outside the police station demanding the suspension of all the staff. Agitators turned violent and at least six policemen sustained injuries in stone pelting. Finally, tear gas had to be used to control the situation.
Chechat is a few kilometres from Khemaj.It is a small town on National Highway 12 between Kota and Jhalawar. Villagers were agitated for two days before word reached Jaipur, the state capital. On October 2, Chechat Station House Officer (SHO) Amilal Chaudhary and sentry were suspended and the remaining staff was sent to the Lines. A “shocked” Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot took 48 hours to order a compensation of Rs 10,00,000 (US$1=Rs 44.3) and a government job to one member of Yadav’s family.
The gruesome nature of the murder has marked that it will not be forgotten for some time to come. But just six days later, on October 5 at around 7 pm, Pushpa Jat, a constable posted at the Jaitaran police station in Pali district, consumed sleeping pills when she failed to fend off the advances of the SHO. She was rushed to the hospital and then sent on ‘medical leave’. There was no hue and cry in the village so the police could easily hush up the matter.
But cases like that of Yadav and Jat are not isolated ones. Sexual harassment of women constables at the workplace is increasing in the same proportion as their numbers in the force. Today, women constitute 5.6 per cent of Rajasthan’s constabulary and this change has largely come about because of 30 per cent reservation for women in the recruitment of constables. Eventually women are expected to make up 30 per cent of the constabulary. This of course is a positive trend. The ‘Safe Cities For Women & Girls’ campaign’s Bogota Declaration specifically called for and increase in the number of police officers, especially to attend to cases of violence against women and girls. The ‘Safe Cities For Women & Girls’ is an international campaign which is in work tandem with Jagori, a national women’s resource centre, in India.
Police officers admit that the sexual harassment of women constables does occur but most cases don’t get reported.When women discuss it with their colleagues, they are advised to keep quiet and be more careful in future.
A woman constable has to perform all the duties that her male colleagues do. Every SHO wants at least 50 per cent of police station staff to be on call so they insist on these women staying at the station’s premises. It is for this reason that women’s rest rooms are now being constructed at police stations for women constables.
Today, out of the 711 police stations in the state, about 350 already have rest rooms for women. But Singh admits that there’s a lot that still needs to be done to create a more enabling environment for women in the force.