Indian women feel more comfortable reporting crimes to all-women police stations, QZ reports.
Opening women’s police stations (WPSs) in India increased crime reportage by 22% in the country, according to a report published in June 2018.
In the report, titled “Gender, Crime and Punishment: Evidence from Women Police Stations in India,” researchers from the University of Essex in the UK and the University of Connecticut in the US looked at reportage statistics on the state and city level. They found WPSs increase abduction and domestic violence reportage, but do not directly impact rape reportage.
“In WPS, officers are less likely to exhibit skewed gender norms about the roles of women or tolerance of violence committed against them,” the report stated of the benefit of the stations.
Due to India’s high risk of sexual violence and the prominence of slave labor, it is considered the world’s most dangerous country for women, according to a 2018 poll conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. An Indian government survey found 42% of girls in the country have been sexually abused. About 40% of girls believe they’ll be shamed or dismissed if they report an assault to authorities, which is where WPSs come in.
But the researchers suspect even with the presence of WPSs, women in India are more likely to report crimes with lower stakes — like reporting someone missing, rather than accusing someone of rape. Reporting rape can be more emotionally and physically taxing for survivors, the researchers explained.
On the city level, more women — 22.2% — reported female kidnappings after WPSs opened in the area, and 21.7% reported domestic violence. On the state level, introducing WPSs resulted in a slight increase in female abduction reportage, by 10.85%. WPSs didn't seem to affect rape, gender-specific homicide, or self-reported partner violence reportage.
50% of all staff in police stations across India should be women.— Tufail Ahmad (@tufailelif) July 5, 2018
Already, 50% seats in panchayats are reserved for women. This legal precedent also needs to be applied to state legislatures and Parliament.
WPSs handle all types of cases in addition to women’s safety. They were first established in 1973 to encourage women who felt dismissed at other stations in India to report the violence they faced. By 2013, there were 479 WPSs in the country, according to the report.
While the majority of the country’s police force is still majority male and women only account for 8%, the stations have influenced more women in the country to join the police force, according to the report.
“We need more women police officers, prosecutors and judges, because we know that women serving on the frontlines of justice strengthen justice for women and children,” Lakshmi Puri, deputy executive director of UN Women, said in a 2013 speech on ending violence against women.
Between 2015 and 2016, the number of women female police went up by 15% — from 123,000 to over 140,000.