Taking note of HT’s coverage on the pitiable condition women police personnel work in, the Mumbai police administration plans to hold regular interaction with women constables to provide them with a forum to raise issues ranging from sexual harassment to family problems.
“We have several schemes to hear and address the problems faced by our women workforce. We will add a few more schemes in order to make the machinery more effective,” said Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria.
The commissioner, on Wednesday, issued a circular to additional commissioners of police of each of the five police regions (south, central, west, east and north) and the Mumbai police reserve (local arms department), asking them to hold regular meetings with women constables in their jurisdiction.
Mumbai police spokesperson Dhananjay Kulkarni said the meetings will be held at the additional commissioner’s office on the second Saturday of every month. “The forum will help women raise their issues in a free and fair environment. In case of sensitive matters such as sexual harassment at workplace, the DCPs will be asked to conduct a time-bound inquiry and submit a report to additional commissioners. The police commissioner will be briefed about the minutes of the interaction and the follow-up action taken,” Kulkarni said, adding the joint commissioner of police (administration) will act as the nodal officer, who will supervise the investigation and initiate action based on the instructions of the police commissioner.
In the earlier set up, women constables could raise their issues with the deputy commissioner of police (headquarters), while issues relating to sexual harassment or gender discrimination were routed through the crime against women cell, with an assistant commissioner of police-level officer conducting an inquiry. However, with the rise in the number of women constables -- from 600 in 2003 to 6,428 (including 432 officers) by 2015 — the old system proved to be ineffective.
Commenting on the new initiative, a woman constable, who had featured in HT’s report, said, “It is a positive initiative. The earlier system of orderly room interaction with the DCPs was merely a woolgathering exercise, as the complaints would get buried in files. Now that we have a chance to interact with senior officers, we hope things will change for the better.”