All-women police squads are patrolling Jaipur’s streets aiming to make them safer for women citizens and to enable the normalisation of women in positions of authority.
Since May this year, a team of 52 trained women officers have been posted in 200 checkpoints across the city, including schools, colleges, parks and malls, in shifts spanning 7am-10pm, increasing the visibility of women authority figures and helping the city’s women feel safer.
“It is aimed at helping the girls and women in the best way possible. It has been noticed that many times a girl or a woman in trouble feels uncomfortable while talking to a male cop, while in this case all these women police officers will effectively address the problem…The idea is to help girls and women who are troubled by men outside schools, colleges and other public places,” Sanjay Agarwal, Commissioner of Police, Jaipur, told Times of India.
The women officers are expected to carry out the same duties as any other cop, including working to prevent crime and making the public feel safer, however, it has been stated that their main priority is deterring the harassment and violence that women are subjected to on Jaipur’s streets, at the hands of men.
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Figures given by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) in 2013 declared Jaipur the third-unsafest city for women in India. Within the state of Rajasthan, the second-highest number of rape cases were recorded in 2012, next only to Madhya Pradesh. In the same report, Jaipur ranked third among cities with 134 cases of rape registered. These figures are even more alarming as the population of women in Jaipur is less than that of other major cities in India, including Bengaluru, Kolkata and Chennai, where cases of violence against women were reported much less.
Such concerning figures raised questions over the effectiveness of the various measures that were being implemented by the police and administration in the city at the time and called for the state to provide a safer environment for its women.
Whilst the move to ensure women’s safety in Jaipur with women police officers shows a positive step towards tackling such shocking figures, the initiative raises some concerns, importantly the role of male police officers in creating safer streets for women and their duty in enforcing respect for women. Furthermore, education and awareness will always be the roots from which women’s safety will grow, and it is unclear as to how much impact the presence of women cops will have on changing societal attitudes towards women.