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Women police Battalion in a changing society; Backdoor to equality

Women Police Battalion: Amidst the rise in the number of reports of attacks against women and girl children, the government of Chennai, in a major policy decision has made it mandatory for all the women police officers to constitute an all-woman police battalion in the state. As per reports, the whole operation came into force on 30 January 2004.  A “women police battalion” stated to be the first in any State police force, was commissioned by the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa.

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Origin of Women Police Battalion

Ms. Jayalalithaa had mentioned that there were 4,777 women constables in the State police force and in the year 2003, 1599 constables were taken in the Tamil Nadu Special Police. Tamil Nadu is also a pioneer in the setting up of All Women Police Stations (AWPS). In 2004, 148 such stations were functioning and efficiently dealing with the problems of women. Even in the recruitment, the State Government gave priority to women. A total of 2,038 women were recruited soon after. Also, 961 sub-inspectors were appointed. Further, 49 women were given employment on compassionate grounds.

The Chief Minister further included that a “woman commando unit” would be a part of the battalion that was commissioned. And what is more pleasing is that all personnel in the battalion would be trained in horse-riding, handling modern weapons and climbing.

However, this operation left behind several ethical questions as to whether it was the right way to induct women into the force. According to some experts, “A battalion has no public interface, confined to barracks. Forgiving a more humane face to police stations where the women and children can get their problems addressed, more women personnel should be inducted to the local police force and not battalions”. Police sources said that the order also left behind several ambiguities as there was no clarity on additional infrastructure and service rules of the women to be introduced into the battalion as they have no such role except to augment the local police in case of emergency situations like riots. Also, there was no lucidity on whether they would remain the battalion or join the local police later, like in the case of men.

Government Plans new system to recruit women

As per reports, the government has devised a new system which is similar to that of male recruits. Once the all-women battalion is made to remain a separate stand-alone force. Those recruited to it will have to remain permanently attached to the battalion headquarters. And at the same time, those women who get recruited to local police will enjoy better promotion avenues as well as a location of their choice.

Despite all ambiguities and after fighting all the odds, the decision to form an all-women battalion is considered a major milestone in the history of Chennai Police.

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