Women Police in a Changing Society

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Women Police in a Changing Society

This page intentionally left blank Back Door to Equality MANGAI NATARAJAN John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Th

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WOMEN POLICE IN A CHANGING SOCIETY

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Women Police in a Changing Society Back Door to Equality

MANGAI NATARAJAN John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York, USA

© Mangai Natarajan 2008 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the publisher. Mangai Natarajan has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work. Published by Ashgate Publishing Limited Gower House Croft Road Aldershot Hampshire GU11 3HR England

Ashgate Publishing Company Suite 420 101 Cherry Street Burlington, VT 05401-4405 USA

www.ashgate.com British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Natarajan, Mangai Women police in a changing society : back door to equality 1. Policewomen - India - Tamil Nadu 2. Sex role in the work environment - India - Tamil Nadu I. Title 363.2'082'095482 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Natarajan, Mangai. Women police in a changing society : back door to equality / by Mangai Natarajan. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-7546-4932-8 1. Policewomen--India. 2. Policewomen--India--Tamil Nadu. 3. Equality--India. 4. Equality--India--Tamil Nadu. I. Title. HV8023.N37 2008 363.2082'095482--dc22 2007041408 ISBN 978 0 7546 4932 8

Contents List of Figures, Map and Diagram List of Tables Preface

vii ix xi

PART I WOMEN POLICE WORLDWIDE 1

Women Police and Societal Change

2

Three Decades of Research on Women Police: What Has Been Learned?

3

21

PART II WOMEN POLICE IN A TRADITIONAL SOCIETY 3

Women Police in India

45

4

Women Police in Tamil Nadu

59

PART III STUDIES OF WOMEN POLICE IN TAMIL NADU 5

Tamil Nadu Women Police in the 1980s

73

6

Tamil Nadu All Women Police Units—An Assessment

85

7

Women Police in the Battalions

123

PART IV WOMEN POLICING IN A CHANGING SOCIETY 8

9

Reconciling the Needs of the Police, Women Officers, and Tamil Nadu

137

Prescriptions for Twenty-first Century Women Policing: Theory, Research, and Policy

149

Bibliography Index

175 223

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List of Figures, Map and Diagram

Figures 1.1 Representation of sworn women police officers in the United States (1971–2005) 1.2 Brown’s model of integration of women into policing 4.1 Nature of cases dealt with by the AWPUs 5.1 Preferred role and style of police department by women officers (n=183) in Tamil Nadu, 1988 6.1 Nature of problem (n=60) 6.2 Processing of domestic dispute and domestic violence cases at AWPUs in Tamil Nadu, India (the IAS model) 9.1 Integration process of women policing in Tamil Nadu

8 15 66 78 105 113 150

Map 4.1 Map of India showing position of Tamil Nadu

59

Diagram 4.1 Tamil Nadu police—organizational chart

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List of Tables 1.1 1.2 2.1 2.2 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 4.1 4.2 4.3 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7

Characteristics of policing models Summary of studies reported in the book Primary focus of 487 published studies on women police (1970–2005) Female police personnel in selected countries (2000 and 1997) (percentage of total strength) Population by urban/rural residence in 2001, India Sex ratio trends in India (1901–2001) Constitutional guarantees for Indian women Percentage of women police in Indian states (as of 12/31/04) Percentage women police in Indian states by rank Number of women police stations in Indian States Jobs assigned to women officers in India in the 1970s Actual police strength of Tamil Nadu including district armed police in 2004 Strength and agility requirements for men and women police constables Distribution of all women police stations in Tamil Nadu Capability of women police officers (n=183) compared with male officers, Tamil Nadu, 1988 (responses in percent) Women officers’ (n=183) interest in specific police activities, Tamil Nadu, 1988 Deployment experience of 183 women police officers in Tamil Nadu (1988) Summary of the results of the discriminant analysis (n=286) Personal characteristics of women officers in 1988 (n=183) and in 1994 (n=61) Prior deployment experience of women police Preferred role of women officers Preferred style of police department Career commitment All petitions and dowry cases at three AWPUs in Chennai, 1999–2001 Dowry-related petitions reported at the AWPUs in Chennai, 1999–2001 (n=474)

11 19 22 34 45 46 47 52 53 55 56 61 62 65 75 76 77 83 87 88 89 90 90 100 101

x

6.8 6.9 6.10 6.11 6.12 7.1 7.2 9.1 9.2

Women Police in a Changing Society

Actions taken in regard to dowry-related petitions reported at the AWPUs in Chennai, 1999–2001 (n=474) Outcomes of dowry related petitions reported at the AWPUs in Chennai, 1999–2001 (n=474) Demographic data for petitioners interviewed (n=60) Petitioners’ perspective on the service provided by the AWPUs and the outcome (n=60) Danger score sheet Demographic characteristics of the 1997 recruits Preferred role of female police officers in Tamil Nadu Five groups of women police in Tamil Nadu Comparison of integrated and gendered policing models in terms of policing style and the status and self-image of women officers

101 102 104 106 121 124 126 159 163

Preface This book gives an account of research on women police in Tamil Nadu, India, which I have been undertaking for some 20 years. During this time, I have completed a number of related studies that have separately found their way into print. In this book, I bring them together to provide a description of the role and functions of women police in Tamil Nadu and how these have changed during the relatively short period of time that India has begun to emerge as a leader among developing economies. This has resulted in enormous social change as a traditional society has adapted to the requirements of a democratic, capitalist state. These changes have greatly affected women, not least the women working as police officers. The research has led me to a particular view of the appropriate role of women police in a traditional culture, different from that of women officers in western countries. When first entering the police, women officers in western countries were deployed to service-oriented, not enforcement work. Apart from performing a secretarial and support function, they were generally confined to cases involving women and juveniles. Gradually they became more integrated into the mainstream of policing and they now perform a wide range of line duties. It is tempting to argue that women officers in developing countries will (and should) follow this trajectory, but I argue in this book that western models of integration should not be imposed on traditional cultures. Rather, integration policy for any particular country must take account of the special roles and needs of women in that culture, and the special contribution they can make to policing. By doing so, the role of women officers will be enriched, and effectiveness and efficiency of the police will be enhanced. Equality between men and women officers should always be the goal, but equality within the system must be achieved using culture-sensitive approaches. This means that there are many routes to achieving equality, including “back door” approaches such as represented by the establishment in 1992 of all women police units (AWPUs) in Tamil Nadu. I find that the experience of working in these units has greatly enhanced the confidence and professionalism of the women officers and I argue that the lessons learned from Tamil Nadu’s unique experience of utilizing women police officers holds important lessons for women police in other parts of India and in other developing countries. Dare I say it, but I think that this experience might also have lessons for western countries that are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain women officers. In any case, policing is being rethought all over the world. The quasi-military model, particularly unsuited to women officers, no longer seems adequate to

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meeting society’s needs for service and for crime prevention, while technology and communications are replacing the need for physical strength and endurance. The community-policing model is attracting considerable interest as a viable alternative. This requires diplomacy and interpersonal skills, which women officers often possess to a considerable degree. There is little doubt that proper utilization of personnel that is, based on skills rather than gender, will enhance police careers and result in police better serving the needs of society. Brief Outline of the Research In the mid-1980s, as a recent criminology graduate from the University of Madras, I had found work as a counselor in charge of help centers for women, sponsored by the Joint Action Council for Women, Tamil Nadu. In the course of this work I regularly came across women police officers and became intrigued by their role. Women had only been working in the police for a few years and they had gained little public acceptance. Men tended to ridicule them while they were doing traffic duties, and women joined in by teasing them about their uniforms and behavior. However, I had seen another side of their work, helping women victims, and I began to think about the problems they faced in the police force, which until recently had been an exclusively male domain. After obtaining a postgraduate diploma in Indo-Japanese Studies, I registered for a PhD. in Criminology at the University of Madras and, having resolved to undertake a comparative study of women police in India and Japan, began to collect literature pertaining to women police in India and other nations. It soon became apparent that it would be much easier for me to pursue this research agenda in the United States where empirical social science was further advanced than in India. By a circuitous route, I ended up at the School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University, where I enrolled for my PhD. My course work papers all related to women police and eventually I decided to do a comparative study of the role of women police in India and the United States. At this point, my dissertation chair, the late Professor Gerhard Mueller, arranged a visiting fellowship for me at UNAFEI to include Japan as one of the comparative elements. I was in Fuchu for two months in 1988 and had many opportunities to observe women police and the environment in which they worked. With my limited Japanese, I was even able to talk to some of the women officers. At that time, women officers constituted 3 percent of the police force in Japan and, though many of them had undergone heavy physical training, the majority of the women police served as clerical support rather than line officers. I have often reflected on this short visit, which gave me another perspective on women police and helped me to understand the problems of conducting crosscultural comparative research.

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1988 Study For my dissertation research I administered a questionnaire on roles and career expectations to almost 200 women police officers from the United States and the same number from India. The questionnaire was adapted from one developed by Sandra Jones (1986) to examine the deployment, training, and promotion experiences of men and women officers, as well as attitudes about preferred roles of policewomen, in the United Kingdom. I modified this questionnaire to suit the Indian setting and found many differences between the women officers in the two countries I was comparing. In the United States, regardless of the difficulties they faced in improving their status, they were very confident about what they could do and were aggressive in seeking an expanded role in policing. The social climate in the police force allowed them to raise their concerns, even if they were not always successful in getting what they wanted. This was not the case in India, where women police performed clerical rather than policing functions and unassertively accepted the role assigned to them. They quietly put up with insults and harassment and were largely helpless because they had no social support. 1994 Study All around the world, improvements in technology in the early 1990s considerably impacted society at large. This was especially true for India. Urban life flourished and more women started entering the labor force. Many other differences in women’s lives could be directly observed. Suddenly it became common to see women riding mopeds, which just a few years before had been expensive and used only by men. Men and women walked hand-in-hand in the streets, something never seen in the 1980s. These changes were especially noticeable to someone like me, returning to the country after a few years’ absence. Observing these changes prompted my interest in the impact of societal change on women police. In 1992, in response to the recommendations of a government report, the Tamil Nadu police set up an All Women Police Unit (AWPU) in Madras on an experimental basis. This was seen as a stopgap measure to handle the increasing number of women victims who were reluctant to go to general police stations to make complaints. I had the opportunity to visit this unit within three months of its opening. After speaking with many of the women officers, I was doubtful about the unit’s survival. The women seemed to be unhappy about being segregated in the unit and they were worried that they would never be given sufficient resources or respect. Having lived in America for a few years and knowing the history of women police in the western world, I thought the establishment of AWPUs was a retrograde step when these women officers were struggling to raise their profile in the police. I wondered why the government had taken this U-turn when the West seemed to be progressing to equality and integration of men and women officers.

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My worries were unfounded because a few months after my visit the unit was pronounced a success and several more were soon opened. Three years later, by 1996, 28 AWPUs had been established throughout the state. I found this so surprising that I decided to undertake a systematic study of the units. Accordingly, I visited five of the units and interviewed a sample of the women working there, using the same questionnaire as in my 1988 study. I saw a remarkable transformation of the women. Instead of grumbling about their work, they were mostly cheerful and appeared to be functioning effectively. I compared their responses to the questionnaire with those obtained in 1988 and found much more positive attitudes towards police work among the women in the AWPUs. Many of these women preferred a “modified” policing role than was the case in 1988, when more officers preferred a “traditional” role. Prior to the establishment of the units, women police constables never handled cases on their own and merely assisted male officers, often by secretarial work. The units gave them the opportunity and the responsibility to perform a much wider variety of ordinary policing roles. Altogether, these women officers seemed much more confident and it appeared that the AWPUs had given them the opportunity to learn how to be policewomen. 2000 Study A new national labor law compelled the Tamil Nadu police in 1997 to ensure that 33 percent of all new recruits were women. This was a remarkable move in terms of increasing the strength as well as the status of women. Male officers threatened strike action unless the women recruited under this legislation were assigned to the same work and conditions as the men. This resulted in court rulings requiring that the women recruited under the new laws should be assigned to regular police battalions, where they were required to undergo training for a six-year period, alongside men, preparatory to assuming the full range of police duties. In 2000, the first batch of new recruits under this legislation was admitted to the force. I waited until August 2000, by which time these recruits would have settled into their new role, before seeking to interview them. I visited six battalions where the new recruits were assigned and interviewed 55 officers and administered the same questionnaire as before to about 100. To provide a comparative element, I visited 19 of the existing 58 AWPUs where I conducted 75 interviews and administered the questionnaire to 140 officers. I found that most of the new recruits were unhappy with their situation. Most had applied to the force on the assumption that they would be placed in the allwomen police units. They were disappointed with life in the battalions and had little idea how long they would remain in there. They disliked the regimented physical exercises and the routine crowd control and political escort duties—the latter being an important part of police work in India. They wanted more challenging and interesting problem-solving duties.

Preface

xv

By contrast, officers in the AWPUs were working enthusiastically. There was a growing professionalism among the women officers and an increased level of confidence and assertiveness, which made them really look like “policewomen” rather than “women police.” Unfortunately, there were also some disturbing trends. Some officers in the AWPUs seemed to be rivaling male officers in levels of corruption. I came across newspaper stories complaining about corrupt practices in the AWPUs. Several of the inspectors in charge had been suspended from their jobs because of corruption, and investigations had also revealed mistreatment of the victims/complainants of domestic violence they were appointed to serve. Disturbed as I was by these stories, I could not help wondering whether corruption might be an indirect measure of equality. Corruption is endemic among male officers, so it would not be surprising if it became widespread among women officers also when employed in the same roles as men. The new labor laws were intended to promote equality but they have also had some unfortunate consequences. Newspaper stories reported that few women had responded to recent recruitment advertisements, probably because news had leaked out concerning the unhappiness of women officers recruited in 2000. This raises serious concerns about the future of women police and suggests to me that, sometimes in some countries, equal opportunity laws can unintentionally hurt the progress of women. Fortunately, the Tamil Nadu police enjoy strong political support from the ex-Chief Minister, Ms Jayalalitha Jayaram, who is also a strong supporter of women’s rights. During her tenure as Chief Minister, she introduced a “Crimes Against Women” division in the office of the Director General of Police and appointed Ms Thilagavathy, a top-ranking woman officer, as the chief of the division. This appointment provides the opportunity for solving some of the problems now facing women police in Tamil Nadu. 2003a Study With a grant from the City University of New York Dispute Resolution Consortium, I undertook a small study of the dispute resolution work undertaken by women officers in three AWPUs in Chennai (formerly known as Madras). I analyzed a large randomly selected sample of dowry-related cases handled by these units during 1999–2001 and interviewed 60 victims randomly selected from among these cases. I also talked to police officers, petitioners and counter-petitioners in the three stations and observed the way in which victims were treated. I thought the women officers lacked professional skills in dealing with victims; they were too authoritarian, and the solution of disputes often seemed too arbitrary and, in my opinion, the officers needed training in counseling and dispute resolution. Even so, the interviews with victims showed that women from traditional backgrounds were comfortable bringing their problems to women officers for resolution. In addition, the victims reported

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that interventions by the women police frequently resulted in reduced physical violence. 2003b Study In June 2001, the Tamil Nadu police won a prestigious competitive grant, the UK “Queen’s Award” for innovations in policing, with a project entitled “Web-based e-training programmes in dispute resolution, interviewing and record keeping for officers in all women police units.” This training was needed because of the rapid growth in AWPUs and wide recognition that women officers had insufficient training both in interviewing/counseling and in record keeping/data management, which limited their efficiency in dealing with domestic disputes. Because of increasing workloads and shortage of staff, women police officers cannot attend regular college courses that are geared to dispute resolution and data management. This pilot project provided training through the Internet so that 30 women police officers from three geographically distributed AWPUs could access the reading materials from their own premises and at their own pace. The project was completed in November 2003 and I was appointed to help develop the curriculum and evaluate the impact of the training. Before-and-after assessments were made of the 30 women’s working knowledge of (1) disputeresolution techniques, (2) interviewing petitioners in family disputes, and (3) data entry and management. Significant improvements were found in all three areas. I saw many improvements including that the trainees were more welcoming to petitioners and counter-petitioners; they did not give assurances to petitioners that they would resolve the case in their favor; and they had learned to ration their time for each case and were better able to cut long sessions spent in mediation. Many thought that they could see a change in themselves after training. Almost all officers said they had learned to become more patient and to control their anger. More officers were able to accept that they did not always treat victims and counter-petitioners properly. They had learned to take a 15-minute break when they come back from outdoor duties, before they interview a petitioner. Unfortunately, some officers were still rude and unsophisticated in their dealings with both groups. During the post-training site visits, I observed a total of 27 petition inquiries. These petitioners were interviewed and asked whether the women police had been helpful in listening to their complaints. Both they and counter-petitioners said that they were treated in a cordial manner, which made them feel more comfortable in explaining their problem. Both groups also praised the counseling approach of the officers and the professional way of handling their disputes. Petitioners that visited the police station a second time reported that, because the police were handling the situation sensitively, their spouses were not angry with them for taking a private matter to police. In short, I think web-based training could be used widely in training women officers to deal with domestic violence and disputes.

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2007 Study After wide reporting of the dissatisfactions of women recruits in the unisex battalions, the Chief Minister introduced an all women battalion force in 2003. She also introduced a women police commando unit, the first in India. In 2007, I was given the opportunity to interview 30 newly-recruited women who had been placed in the all women battalion in Avadi, Chennai. A woman Superintendent of Police (SP) had been given charge of the battalion and many of the trainers were selected from the 1997 recruits, who were given the option of remaining in the battalion to train the new recruits. This helped those women officers who lived locally with a family to remain in the same area. The new recruits were enthusiastic about their future role in the police. They complained little about the regime, apart from having to stand in the heat on the parade ground, drilling and undergoing other physical exercises. They were proud to have learned how to handle rifles. Even so, they were eager to serve in the AWPUs where they could deal directly deal with the public and help women victims of violence. This sets the stage for future evaluative research: to see how successfully this current generation of young women, given the same law enforcement training as men, adapt to the work of dealing with women and children in the context of the AWPUs. Acknowledgements I thank the Tamil Nadu government and police force for providing all the necessary assistance to carry out the research reported in this book. The data collection process for my dissertation started in 1988 and I am greatly indebted to the late Dr Deivasenapathy, Reader, Psychology Department, University of Madras, who collected the data for me in Tamil Nadu. I am also grateful to Professors G.O.W. Mueller, R.V. Clarke, D. Weisburd and P. Shane of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, for their guidance in completing my PhD. Professor Clarke has been supportive of this endeavor throughout and without his guidance and editorial help this book could not have been completed. My thanks are also due to Mr. Walter Davaram, IPS, Assistant Director General of Police, Law and Order, for granting permission for the 1994 study. Mrs. Archana Ramasundaram, IPS Superintendent of Police Vigilance and Anti-corruption, organized my program of visits to the all-women police units, and Mr. K.V.S. Murty, IPS, Commissioner of Police, Madurai, Mr. Vibhakar Sharma, IPS. Deputy Inspector General of Police, Coimbatore, and Mr. G. Ganesan, IPS Commissioner of Police, Coimbatore, very kindly helped me with local arrangements. For help with my 2000 study, I would like to thank: Ms Shantha Sheela Nair, IAS. Secretary to the Tamil Nadu government, Home Department; Mr F.C. Sharma, IPS Director General of Police; Mr P. Kumarasamy, Assistant Director General of Police (Law and Order); Mr K. Natarajan, IPS, Assistant Director General of Police

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(Administration); and local police commissioners and Deputy Superintendents for making arrangements for site visits. Many thanks also to three criminology graduates— Dr Prasanna PoornaChandra, Ms. Gia Coombs and Ms. Hema Ramachandran—who assisted me with interviews and distributing the questionnaires. For help with my 2003 study, I would like to thank Mr K. Natarajan IPS, Director General of Police (Law and Order) and Mr K. Vijayakumar, Police Commissioner, Chennai City. Thanks also to the assistant police commissioner and the Inspectors in charge of the police stations for their assistance. I would like to thank the women petitioners for consenting to interviews and Dr P. Prasanna, Ms Maya, Ms Hema, Ms Poornima, Ms Shalina, Ms Anu, Mrs Vasantha, Mrs Indrani, Mrs Latha Srinivasan, Dr Rashi Shukla and Dr Adreas Rengifino for their valuable assistance in data collection and data entry. For help with my 2007 study, I would like to thank Ms Letika Saran, IPS Police Commissioner, Chennai, and Ms P.K. Selvakumari, IPS, Superintendent of Police in charge of All-Women Battalions, Avadi for their support. I have several people to thank for their encouragement and support during this ongoing endeavor: Ms Phyllis Schultz, librarian at the Criminal Justice Collection at Rutgers, who helped me for more than fifteen years in updating my bibliography on women policing. Ms Beata Gloza for her help with checking the references and formatting the references. Dr R.K. Raghavan (recently retired as director, Central Bureau of Investigations-CBI) who taught me police administration while I was a masters student in Criminology at the University of Madras, has been supportive of my work throughout. He arranged for me to meet many high-ranking women police officers, with whom I had lengthy discussions and developed long-term friendships; in my opinion these higher-ranking officers are truly admirable and they can be a source of inspiration to women in the constabulary. Mr K. Radhakrishnan, IPS, whom I admire for taking an interest in women officers’ welfare. He has been very supportive of my work and has assisted me greatly since 2000. We worked together on the Queens Award project and I immensely enjoyed the partnership in working for the cause of women police. In fact, he made me realize how much of a contribution senior officers can make in transforming the police culture. The anonymous reviewers of the draft manuscript provided invaluable comments that have helped shape the argument of the book. Last, but not least, I am indebted to my closest friend, Jithendranath Vaidyanathan, Not only has he been emotionally supportive, but he has also provided critical comments on all the research reports, which helped me to think through my conclusions from a cultural perspective. I dedicate this book to the women police of Tamil Nadu who have improved the lives of so many unhappy and disadvantaged women over the years. Mangai Natarajan, Ph.D. Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York, USA

PART 1 WOMEN POLICE WORLDWIDE

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Chapter 1

Women Police and Societal Change

Introduction This book presents the results of a series of studies of women police in Tamil Nadu, a Southern Indian state. The studies extend over a period of twenty years, and they chart the changes that have occurred in the utilization of women officers. On the basis of this research, the book seeks to draw some broad conclusions about the most appropriate roles for women police in traditional societies, roles that satisfy the needs of the organization as well as those of the women themselves. Developing countries sometimes try to adapt or imitate western models in economic and social matters, hoping in this way to improve the lives of their citizens. Developments in technology and globalization have reinforced this trend because they have provided tangible and ever-present reminders of the success of western societies. However, learning from the West is not always easy because there is a basic conflict between the ideals of western industrialized nations (characterized by sociologists as “open” societies) and those of more traditional or “closed” societies. In “open” societies, or meritocracies, social mobility is made possible, based on personal achievement. These societies must reward socially useful talents and skills, rather than maintain privileges, if they are to survive. Social position in these societies is achieved rather than ascribed; each person is given an opportunity to climb the social ladder. This means that people in an open society will be more individualistic because, in theory, their position in society is determined by their achievements regardless of gender. Women in open societies compete with men, not because they are women, but because they see themselves as independent and autonomous individuals. These expectations help them to survive in society and also help them achieve success in male-dominated jobs such as policing. The ambitions of developing countries for economic and social improvement are therefore tempered by concerns that adapting western models could jeopardize cultural values and traditions that have served these societies well for hundreds of years. It is especially difficult to change traditional values and norms relating to gender roles, and the place of family and religion in everyday life, because these are so deep rooted within the culture. Such changes threaten the very basis of society and undermine individuals’ feelings of self-worth and well-being. What people believe, what they value, what rules of conduct they follow or break are learned through membership in social groups embedded in the broader culture. Attempting to change the broader culture carries the threat of societal breakdown. This means

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that traditional “closed” societies cannot adopt western models outright. Instead, they must first find ways to improve their economies and open up their societies without undermining their traditional values. This larger problem is mirrored in the more specific context of women policing. How can women who have been brought up to be dependent change so that they can function effectively in an aggressive, male-dominated occupation with energy, self-reliance and motivation? In order to avoid some of the problems of adopting a western model for traditional societies, it is necessary to find an alternative route to bring women to equal status in the police force. This book will argue that the Tamil Nadu experience of utilizing women officers might provide a model for other traditional societies.1 The police force in Tamil Nadu is organized on a paramilitary model, with recruits being placed for an extended period of training in police battalions run on military lines. The first women officers who were employed were not exposed to these harsh conditions, but were placed directly into police stations where they worked in a support role for men, mainly on cases with female offenders or victims. This did little to reduce the suspicion with which most women in Tamil Nadu viewed the police and they remained reluctant to come to the stations, which meant that victims in need of help and support from the police were simply not being served. To remedy this situation, the government decided to establish AWPUs to cater for the needs of women victims. The first one was opened in 1992 and quickly judged a success. Within a short period of time, 148 of these units were opened. The women officers working in them have gained experience of a much wider range of police work than when they were performing a support role in the police stations. They experienced much less harassment and intimidation than those working in a support role to men (such ill treatment is common all over the world; Brown and Heidensohn 2000). Their confidence has increased and, despite some problems, their status among the public and within the force has greatly improved. Because these officers serve a wide variety of functions, the police force is making better use of its resources and has enhanced its image among the public at large. In Martin’s (1980) terms used to describe differences in women’s adaptation to the police profession, these officers are now functioning as policewomen: they show high commitment to their jobs and wish to work on patrol assignments. By contrast, the women deployed to the general police stations would be termed policewomen by Martin: they conform to sex role expectations, have a lack of occupational commitment, and are employed and assigned to an array of support functions, not patrol duties. It is therefore clear that segregating the women

1 A women police officer in India says that “Being a woman police is a punishment” (Retrieved Thursday, 21 February, 2002, 17:43 GMT). However, many women police in Tamil Nadu perceive their current situations as improving because many steps have been taken there in the past few years to use women police more appropriately.

Women Police and Societal Change

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officers in their own units has brought many benefits for the officers, for the police force, and for the public in Tamil Nadu. Accordingly, it will be argued in this book that, contrary to the prevailing wisdom, segregation of women officers can provide a “back door” to achieving equal status with men. This may be an interim stage to full integration, but it is still needed. The key to this door is the doctrine of “separate but equal.” This recognizes that men and women can both make an equal contribution to policing, even if these contributions are different. Men and women have different skills and capacities, which it is important to recognize in work assignments. In a traditional society, especially, it must be recognized that women officers also have different societal roles that must be accommodated in the work environment. Nowhere has this been expressed better than in UNESCO’s (2000) definition of gender equality: Equality between men and women entails the concept that all human beings, both men and women, are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles and prejudices. Gender equality means that the different behavior, aspirations and needs of women and men are considered, valued and favored equally. It does not mean that women and men have to become the same, but that their rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female. Gender equity means fairness of treatment for women and men, according to their respective needs. This may include equal treatment or treatment that is different but which is considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities.

In conclusion, this book serves two broad objectives: (1) to explore the ways in which women can best be utilized in the police forces of traditional societies, and (2) to examine the ways in which women can obtain equal status to men in the police. More specifically, it seeks to: 1. Provide a detailed case study of women policing in a traditional society to show changes in the process of deployment over a period of time; 2. Show that women can be different but equal in policing and how this is achievable in traditional cultures; 3. Examine how “gendered policing” can pave the way for equality in the police; 4. Demonstrate the difficulties in adapting western models of integration in traditional societies and discuss alternative models of integration; 5. Describe ways in which women can be helped to play their unique and valuable role in policing. Gender Roles and Policing Gender roles are changing rapidly in the modern world. Industrialization and urbanization have impacted family size and structure and have also fundamentally

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Women Police in a Changing Society

changed values and norms. In many parts of the world, increasing numbers of women have started to work outside the home to meet the material needs of their families, but also to enjoy satisfying careers. With higher living standards and more family income, college education has become possible not only for men, but also for increasing numbers of lower and middle-class women. As young women have learned marketable skills for use in the world of work, paid employment has developed a new importance in their lives. Increasingly, women all over the world see careers as desirable and permanent parts of their futures and many have tapped into jobs that were once male preserves. Law enforcement is one such job where, until quite recently, careers were not open to women, but where now a new world of employment opportunities has opened up for them. However, policing is still portrayed in the media and elsewhere as a masculine job. Physical strength, fearlessness and aggressiveness are portrayed as the qualities displayed by the ideal officer. Overlooked are the many other qualities needed to carry out police work successfully. These include patience, compromise, empathy and diplomacy—all qualities that women possess to a considerable degree. Equally overlooked is that policing serves not just law enforcement, but also two other important functions—the maintenance of order and service to the public— which women can perform equally well if not better than men.2 The eight duties of police that have been identified by the American Bar Association help to make the point. These duties are as follows: 1. To prevent and control conduct widely recognized as threatening to life and property (serious crimes); 2. To aid individuals who are in danger of physical harm, such as the victim of a criminal attack; 3. To protect constitutional guarantees, such as the right of free speech and assembly (parade, demonstration work); 4. To facilitate the movement of people and vehicles (traffic); 5. To assist those who cannot care for themselves: the intoxicated, the addicted, the mentally ill, the physically disabled, the old, and the young; 6. To resolve conflict, whether it be between individuals, groups of individuals, or individuals and their government; 7. To identify problems that have the potential for becoming more serious problems for the individual citizen, for the police, or for government; 8. To create and maintain a feeling of security in the community. 2 Order maintenance is a police function of preventing behavior that disturbs or threatens to disturb the public peace or that involves face-to-face conflict among two or more persons. Law enforcement is the police function of controlling crime by intervening in situations in which it is clear that the law has been violated and only the identity of the guilty needs to be determined. Service is the police function of providing assistance to the public, usually regarding matters that are unrelated to crime.

Women Police and Societal Change

7

These descriptions show that a great deal of police work is not dependent on physical strength or dominance, but relies on human sensitivity and the exercise of interpersonal skills. The central point is that policing encompasses a vast range of work, requiring the police to exercise many different skills and abilities and to work in a variety of ways. Within this range of duties, there is ample scope for women to work productively and to undertake essential duties. Nor should it be assumed that men are always better able to deal with violent situations because they are stronger. In fact, many studies show that women often respond to violent situations better than male officers (Price, 1996) and they may have a special role in dealing with domestic violence, which is absorbing an increasing proportion of police time. Women often understand the emotions underlying the violence and respond to the case accordingly. Greater use of women in responding to these incidents could enhance the services provided to women victims of domestic violence. As the National Center for Women and Policing (1999) has stated, “The under-representation of women in law enforcement also has significant implications for women in the community who are victims of domestic violence.”3 Despite this under-representation, women officers are being increasingly recruited and they are also gradually becoming more integrated into law enforcement agencies. In almost all countries, women first entered the police force as matrons who were hired to deal with women and children. Later, they were assigned to “women’s work”—nondangerous assignments such as shoplifting squads and juvenile bureaus, but still not to patrol or detective duties. Fuller utilization of women in the police is a phenomenon 3 If this is true of an advanced industrialized country such as the United States, it is even more so of less developed nations. The World Health Organization reports that between 12 percent and 25 percent of women around the world have experienced sexual violence at some time in their lives. More than 100 million girls and women around the world have undergone female genital mutilation. According to the United Nations Population Fund, an estimated four million women and girls around the world are bought and sold either into marriage, prostitution, or slavery. This organization also estimates that as many as 5,000 women and girls are murdered by family members each year in so-called “honor killings” around the world. The World Health Organization reports that in some countries, women and girls are attacked with acid as a result of family disputes or rejected sex or marriage proposals. In a report presented to the Beijing + 5 Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Government of India indicated a 15.2 percent rise in dowry deaths. Further, armed conflict situations and civil wars in approximately 100 countries around the world have seen the increasing use of rape as a weapon of warfare. Women civilians and refugees, specifically targeted by armed forces, are subject to mass rape, forced pregnancy, and sexual slavery (www.feminist.com/violence/spot/). These atrocities against women are not new, but in the past they have been ignored because of women’s marginal status in society. Largely as a result of pressure exerted by the women’s movement, which began in the 1970s and which has forcefully advocated gender equality and gender mainstreaming, there is now a much greater determination amongst police forces to deal effectively with crimes committed against women.

8

Women Police in a Changing Society

dating only from World War II (Shane, 1980), but it has accelerated in the past 30 years. It also varies with the openness of societies and their criminal justice systems, with social and economic development, and with the degree of resistance or support among the population at large.4 There are many countries today, however, where women police participate in a wide array of duties, including street patrol, dispatch, supervision, and administration. Even so, they still comprise only a small minority of serving officers (Heidensohn, 1998; National Center for Women and Policing, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001; Prenzler, 1998; Harris, 1999; Horne, 1999). The most complete data relate to the United States. Figure 1.1 shows that in the United States in 1971, women constituted only 1.4 percent of the total number of police officers. From 1971 to 2005, there was a constant overall increase in the number of women officers in line positions.

Figure 1.1

Representation of sworn women police officers in the United States (1971–2005)

This trend mirrors the data provided by the National Center for Women and Policing survey report titled Equality Denied (2002), which shows that, between 1972 and 2001, the proportion of women officers grew annually at less than one-half of 1 percent per year. It was not until 1993 that large police agencies reached a major benchmark by crossing into double digits. The survey also reports that in 2000 and 2001 this trend of slow increase has stalled and possibly even reversed. In 2001, women accounted for only 12.7 percent of all sworn law enforcement positions in large 4 According to commentators, much of the resistance to gender equality is due to men’s and women’s position in society that put them into fixed categories for life .

Women Police and Societal Change

9

agencies (with 100 or more sworn personnel)—a figure that is barely four percentage points higher than in 1990, when women comprised 9 percent of sworn officers. In small and rural agencies (with fewer than 100 sworn personnel), women comprised an even smaller 8.1 percent of all sworn personnel. When these figures are combined in a weighted estimate, they indicate that women represented only 11.2 percent of all sworn law enforcement personnel in the US—dramatically less than the participation of women in the whole of the labor force at 46.5 percent. Further, according to the report, women are concentrated in the lowest tier of sworn law enforcement positions. Women held 13.5 percent of line positions, but their numbers rapidly decrease in the higher ranks to 9.6 percent of supervisory posts and 7.3 percent of top command positions. More than half (55.9 percent) of the large police agencies surveyed reported no women in top command positions, and the vast majority (87.9 percent) reported no women of color in their highest ranks. For small and rural agencies, 97.4 percent had no women in top command positions, and only one of the 235 agencies had a woman of color as their chief. The report comments as follows: Overall, the number of women in law enforcement has increased at an alarmingly slowrate over the past 30 years and women remain severely under-represented in large, small and rural law enforcement agencies in the United States. Worse, this glacial pace of progress has either stalled or reversed in the past few years. Until law enforcement agencies enact policies and practices designed to recruit, retain, and promote women, gender balance in policing will remain a distant reality. Until then, law enforcement personnel will not fairly represent the characteristics of the communities they serve (National Center for Women and Policing Report, 2002).

As might be expected, the picture in most other countries is worse. Nowhere have women been fully integrated into policing, as judged by the roles they perform and their career expectations and opportunities. These are all considerably more limited than for men (Martin, 1990 and 1991; Schulz, 1995b, 1998; Coffey, Brown and Savage, 1992). This is particularly the case in developing countries where the women’s movement lacks credibility, where there is widespread resistance to women joining the labor force, and where equal opportunity laws have been weak or nonexistent. This somewhat discouraging picture raises the question of whether women will ever reach equal representation or gender balance within the police, particularly given the job climate that results in many women becoming dissatisfied and inclined to leave. It could be that under-representation of women in policing might be a temporary state of affairs, due simply to the fact that women are relatively recent arrivals in a male-dominated profession. If so, full integration can be expected to occur in time. On the other hand, there might be permanent barriers to full integration, which women might already be encountering (Heidensohn, 1992). These barriers

10

Women Police in a Changing Society

derive from several sources. They might be due to the prejudice of male officers who refuse to believe that women can undertake the full complement of duties. They might be due to wider societal attitudes and beliefs about appropriate roles for women. They might result from inherent differences between men and women in physical capabilities. Finally, they might be due to the preferences of the women officers themselves and the difficulty of finding a satisfying police role compatible with personal goals and family responsibilities. It might also be the case that the representation of women has not yet reached what Kanter (1977), in her famous book Men and Women of the Corporation, calls a “critical mass” for change. According to Kanter, when women are present in sufficient numbers in an organization, they can exercise the power of numbers and provide a network of support for one another. This assists in speeding up the process of assimilation of women in the organization. However, Kanter also argues that “as long as organizations remain the same, merely replacing men with women would not alone make a difference” (p. xi), and what would make a difference to the everyday lives of people in an organization is not merely increased numbers of women, but structural changes in the dimensions of opportunity and power that women can help to bring about (p. 5). Of course, all this begs the question of what proportion of total strength women officers should comprise. For diehard feminists, nothing less than 50 percent would be enough, but this assumes that men and women are both equally interested in, and equally suited to, policing as a career. To date, there is no clear evidence that either of these conditions holds, though the question of equal suitability is perhaps less important than that of equal interest. There are still some professions and occupations that women generally choose not to go into—for example, accountancy, engineering, mathematics, science, and blue-collar jobs. Policing may be one of these occupations. Women more than men may dislike confronting violence and using deadly force, and they might also dislike more the unsocial hours and often spartan working conditions of policing. In their research on women in non-traditional jobs, Padavic and Reskin (1990) found that there are two main reasons why women decide not to take up nontraditional jobs: (1) women are socialized to take up different kinds of work than men, and (2) they believe that they will not be treated well by their male co-workers. Lillydahl (1986, p. 321) expands these to five reasons why women do not seek jobs that are seen as non-traditional for women: 1. Women may prefer white-collar employment to blue-collar because of the inherent characteristics of each type of employment. 2. Women may seek out only “socially acceptable” employment and they avoid jobs that they believe may result in negative feedback and harassment from family members, friends, male coworkers, and employers. 3. Some women may have previously experienced sex discrimination in hiring and employment or harassment on the job. These women may no longer desire these jobs again.

Women Police and Societal Change

11

4. Women may feel ill prepared for blue-collar work. 5. The working hours and work schedules of some blue-collar jobs may deter women, especially those with young children. Policing Models and Women Officers Entrenched gender discrimination, coupled with cultural expectations regarding women’s role at home, used to mean that women would not generally opt for policing jobs. However, remarkable changes have occurred in the way police forces operate around the world (Weisburd and Braga, 2006, p. 350), which could have important implications for the role of women officers in the police. The implications vary with differences in policing models which, according to Mawby (1990), a comparative

Table 1.1 Factors Legitimacy Structure Function

Characteristics of policing models Control-dominated Authority rests with political masters Paramilitary Maintaining law and order

Community-oriented Accorded by local citizens Relatively flat hierarchy Crime prevention

policing expert, fall into two distinct types: (1) control-dominated systems, and (2) community-oriented systems. In control-dominated systems, the origins of which can be found in the colonial era, the police operate under a paramilitary regime and serve the interests of political leaders. Under the community-oriented model (sometimes called the Anglo Saxon model), policing legitimacy is accorded by citizens, and police work within a decentralized structure to safeguard society from crime. These two systems differ importantly on the three key factors of legitimacy, structure, and function (see Table 1.1). Legitimacy refers to the special authority granted to police by those in power, whether an elite within the society, an occupying force, or the community as a whole. Structure refers to the degree of specialization within the police and the extent to which codes of practice govern such technical matters as legitimate use of force. Lastly, function refers to the degree to which the police are concentrated on the maintenance of law and order and the prevention and detection of offences (Mawby, 2005). Mawby does not discuss the implications of these two basic models for women police,5 but the paramilitary structure of control-dominated systems would have limited appeal for most women officers. For example, control-dominated systems

5 According to Manning and Robinson (2000) this is a general failing of policing models: “Although models of policing provide a foundation for understanding police behavior, the gendered nature of policing remains invisible. Gender is a characteristic that permeates

12

Women Police in a Changing Society

expect police officers to be tough, aggressive, and on call at any hour of the day. Much more appealing for women would be the community-oriented model, which in its most recent manifestation in the United States of “community policing” has been widely embraced because it promises to improve police relations with minority communities. It seeks to do this by such means as foot patrols, shop-front police stations, community newsletters and undertaking local problem-solving initiatives. What has generally not been recognized, however, is that community policing can also offer a better service to women in general and a better career for women officers because it depends more heavily on policing through consensus than through force.6 Policing through consensus capitalizes on the particular skills and strengths of women officers. As Southgate (1981) has remarked, the most effective deployment of women in the police force can be achieved if management is aware of what female officers feel they can do best, and what they feel is good or bad about the conditions and content of their work. The following section examines what women themselves feel about their preferred roles and functions and then assesses the implications of this information for theoretical models of integration. Theoretical Models of Integration According to Heidensohn (2002) there are two prevailing models of the assimilation of women into the police. The first derives from the equal opportunity position that women have a right to enter any occupation they choose to, and they ought to fulfill the same role as men in the police. This can be called the “integrated” model. The second model derives from the origins of female law enforcement, when women police dealt with women and children. It holds that women have a specialist role in the police that they are uniquely qualified to fulfil. This role relates to the protective

all aspects of society. Models that do not address gender can only be considered partial explanations of policing.” 6 Policing through consensus is similar to Wilson’s (1968) “service style” of policing. He distinguishes three different styles—watchman, legalistic, and service. The watchman style encourages officers to focus on maintaining order rather than enforcing the law. The legalistic style emphasizes a law enforcement approach where officers are supposed to be aggressive crime-fighters and treat all offenses formally. The service style is a combination of the watchman and legalistic and encourages officers to intervene frequently to maintain order, but to make arrests sparingly and treat citizens like customers rather than criminals. Police forces do indeed adopt all these styles, depending upon the job to be done and according to the capacities of personnel. Management may strive to identify the particular talents of individual officers and allocate assignments on the basis of these talents. For example, a policeman who is talented in investigation will be allocated to the detective division. However, most police forces ignore the qualities of their women personnel in assigning duties.

Women Police and Societal Change

13

and preventive functions of policing and, according to Appier (1992), was the role advocated by many female reformers. This might be called the “gendered” model. Integrated Model It has been repeatedly shown that there was a great deal of opposition to the entry of women into policing and that women are still far from being fully integrated into this largely male profession. Whether full integration is simply a matter of time or whether it is unachievable is therefore an open question. On the basis of her comparative study of women police in European countries, Brown (1997) argues that over time women officers gradually become more integrated into the police force, passing through six distinct stages, which she characterizes as “entry,” “separate restricted development,” “integration,” “take-off,” “reform,” and “tip-over” (Figure 1.2). “Entry” of women into policing is often precipitated by some crisis such as the wholesale conscription of men in Britain during World War I and the consequent shortage of police recruits. Once admitted to the police, women are “restricted” to dealing with women and children. They then often become enmeshed in their separate career structure and status and get caught in what Brown calls a crab-basket (Krabbenmard) so that they drag each other back to a “restricted” role. Paradoxically, this can lead to heightened awareness of equal-opportunities legislation mandating “integration,” which in turn can arouse policemen’s resistance to women officers. Women may respond through litigation, with the result that the numbers of women recruits “take off.” A consequent deterioration of the relationship between men and women officers results in increased problems such as sexual harassment. Research sheds light on these problems and leads to the stage of “reform.” This includes inspections by outsiders, improved training, and the development of procedures for handling grievances. Women officers may begin to come up against a “glass ceiling” blocking their upward progress through the ranks, when the numbers of women “tipover” from being a small minority of officers to a more equal representation. This stage requires the appointment of an external watchdog to monitor the treatment of women officers by the force. Brown argues that observed differences in integration between countries are the result of different rates of progress through these various stages, and that these differences will eventually disappear once the proportion of women officers in each country (said to be about 25 percent of total enrolment) results in “tip-over.” In a later work, Brown and her colleagues (1999) took the model further by incorporating two other dimensions: discriminatory practices (harassment, deployment, and career progression) and a cross-cultural frame which was divided into three traditions of policing: Anglo-American, Colonial and European. Brown’s model seems to fit the experience in Europe, but does not fit Natarajan’s (1996a) view of policing in India. On the basis of her study of AWPUs in Tamil Nadu, Natarajan argued that the complete integration of women in the police force

Women Police in a Changing Society

14

might not occur in traditional societies, or will take a longer period of time because of the particular advantages of a degree of segregation both for the police force and the policewomen. Of course, prevailing norms in a society play an important role in shaping women’s roles in police. In western countries, there is tremendous societal pressure to improve the status of women in all social arenas, including the police force. In traditional societies, however, the position of women is improving only slowly, where strapped economies and other pressing needs and priorities make equality for women of secondary importance. Gendered Policing While the “integrated” model of women policing promotes the idea that female and male officers should perform the same jobs, the “gendered” model advocates women performing a variety of functions depending upon their expertise, specifically policing women and children. “Gender” is a socially constructed concept to describe a biological variability of humans. In the occupational arena, gender relations are considered an important focus in understanding the development of men and women who enter the job market. The tendency for women and men to work differently is an important feature of all societies and there is always a degree of gender segregation in occupations (Blackburn, 2006; Blackburn et al., 2002). According to Blackburn and Jarman (2006), “Most discussions of gender segregation treat the existence of segregation as a form of gender inequality or as being strongly related to inequality, and the inequality is unquestioningly taken to be to the advantage of men”. Further, they state that most theories of gender segregation depict that “male power” is the major root cause which is generally explained by the following factors: biological (Goldberg, 1979, 1993), human capital and rational choice (Polacheck, 1975; Mincer and Polacheck, 1974), or patriarchy (Delphy, 1977; Jenson, Laufer and Maruani, 2000; Anderson and Tomaskovic-Devey, 1995; Reskin and Hartmann, 1986), or the three in combination (Hakim, 2000). These explanations overemphasize male agency, underemphasize women’s ability both to resist but also at times supporting a status quo in which they have an unequal status, and overlook the interactions of gender and class that place limitations on working-class men’s power to control their environments. They also tend to underestimate the impact of expansion and contraction of the labor supply and its effects on opportunities, or lack thereof, for new entrants to the labor force (Blackburn and Jarman, p. 291).

Policing is certainly an occupation with a high level of segregation and, as Blackburn and Jarman (2006) suggest, in order to understand the reasons for gender segregation, one must look beyond gender relations to developments in the wider society. For example, significant technical and social developments have transformed the nature

Women Police and Societal Change

Figure 1.2

Brown’s model of integration of women into policing

15

16

Women Police in a Changing Society

of work and the changes in the available workforces, and these developments have completely changed the involvement of women in work around the world (Blackburn et al., 2002). Women entered into the police force because of the necessity to deal with women and children. Their entry changed the male-dominated (in numbers) and male-centered (concentrating primarily on male population) occupation. According to Appier (1998), female reformers in the US argued that the presence of women in the police force would make the police more responsive to the needs of women and children, as well as infuse police work with values associated with women and social work. It would also lift the overall intelligence level of police officers and create a police system that would not only detect crime but, more importantly in their view, also prevent it. In short their case for women police constituted a searching critique of prevailing police practices and philosophy. It also provided the basis for a female-gendered model of police work known as the crime prevention model. In essence, “the history of women’s entry into the police force has impacted not only the discourse and direction of police reform but also the incorporation of gender into police operations and organization” (Appier, 1998, p. 2). This view of the role of women officers implies that it is much easier to accommodate and assimilate women within an Anglo Saxon approach to policing (primarily a community-oriented policing model) than within colonial or bureaucratic models of policing. The National Center for Women & Policing (2003) confirms that: Research conducted both in the United States and internationally clearly demonstrates that women officers rely on a style of policing that uses less physical force, are better at defusing and de-escalating potentially violent confrontations with citizens, and are less likely to become involved in problems with use of excessive force. Additionally, women officers often possess better communication skills than their male counterparts and are better able to facilitate the cooperation and trust required to implement a community policing model. The very presence of women in the field will often bring about change in policies and procedures that benefit both male and female officers.

As gathered from Appier’s (1998, 1992) historical account, a “gendered” model of women policing has advantages for those new arrivals in the police force. It is safe to say that at the advent of the feminist movements, US women police in the 1970s dismissed the idea of segregation, because they wanted to be treated as equals by their male colleagues and they thought segregation, as represented by the women’s bureaus, would undermine or hinder their careers in the police force. More than three decades have passed since then and women have not achieved much progress in terms of equality in the police force. Within this context, more thought should be given to gendered policing to see whether it might provide more scope for integrating women into the police force. In sum, both models of women in policing emphasize equal representation of women in policing. The difference is that gendered policing focuses on equal

Women Police and Societal Change

17

opportunity by deploying women in a range of police duties that are suitable for them, whereas the integrated model of women in policing advocates equal opportunity by deploying women in the same duties as male officers. The suitability of each model depends to some extent on the economic and social development of the society in question. For example, women police in the US or in England benefit from affirmative legislation that supports the equal status of women, and they have the economic opportunity structure to combine both family and career when compared to women officers, for example, in India or in Ethiopia. Thus, most women officers in England and the US come from middle class families which allows them to provide the means for daycare facilities for their children, easy amenities for cooking and cleaning, and easy transportation to work. This is rarely the case for women officers in developing and underdeveloped countries. In essence, The promotion of equality must not be confused with the simple objective of balancing the statistics: it is a question of promoting long-lasting changes in parental roles, family structures, institutional practices, the organization of work and time, their personal development and independence, but also concerns men and the whole of society, in which it can encourage progress and be a token of democracy and pluralism. (Commission of European Communities 1996).7

Research has repeatedly shown that women perform better than men in certain police duties, and males perform better than women in others. However, this finding is rarely taken into account when assigning duties to women. Any minor failures by women are inflated into major problems and woven into stereotypic comments, such as “women cannot do this and that.” Sometimes the stereotypes are harsh and women are devalued and harassed just for being women. This situation leads to helplessness, which results in many women officers becoming unhappy and eventually leaving their jobs. Police managements frequently claim that women leave more often than men because they are not committed to the work. However, the management literature clearly indicates that morale decreases when employees are ignored and not given status and encouragement. Many police departments have failed to learn this lesson in their treatment of women officers. Summary For generations, it was believed that policing is an unsuitable job for women because of their timidity and lack of physical strength. In reality, much police work is not physical and involves little use of force. Experience has shown that much of the crime work and all the service functions of police can be performed just as well, if not better, by women officers. Women also have a special role in policing women 7 For more details, see:.

18

Women Police in a Changing Society

and children and in helping female victims of crime. Even so, women are still poorly represented in the ranks of the police all over the world. This chapter provides an introduction to some concepts that are important to achieving an understanding of women policing, including gender roles, policing models, and societal changes. It reviews data about the current representation of women and the roles they have filled. It considers the question of what level of representation would be satisfactory and explores what features of policing might make it an unattractive career for women. Using the two major theoretical models of integration, the “integrated” and the “gendered” model, this chapter argues that the prevailing norms of society and the dominant style of policing operations make it unlikely that women officers will be fully integrated in policing for many years to come. This is even truer for women officers in developing and traditional societies. The best hope of promoting equality of men and women officers in these countries is provided by the gendered model which is essentially a segregated model of policing. Such a model is being successfully promoted in Tamil Nadu, where the field research for this book was undertaken. Overview of the Book The book falls into the following four parts: Part I (Chapters 1 and 2): Women Police Worldwide Part II (Chapters 3 and 4): Women Police in a Traditional Society Part III (Chapters 5–7): Studies of Women Police in Tamil Nadu Part IV (Chapters 8 and 9): Women Policing in a Changing Society The book includes reports of seven studies conducted over nearly 20 years. These are briefly described in the preface and are listed in Table 1.2. Chapter 1 provides an overview of women policing around the world and asks whether western models of integration are appropriate to the social and economic conditions of developing countries. Chapter 2 provides an extensive review of the international literature on women police, covering around five hundred studies. The dominant themes of this literature are identified and the principal conclusions are summarized. It reviews the history of the deployment of women police officers in western countries particularly the United States and the United Kingdom, where women have progressively become more integrated into the mainstream of policing. It sets the stage for the argument of the book: western models of integration do not necessarily hold for traditional societies and that the experience of Tamil Nadu may hold more relevant lessons. Chapter 3 which draws upon Natarajan (1991, 1996a), focuses primarily on India, a developing traditional society. It describes the police force and discusses variations in the deployment of women police within India. Chapter 4 describes the history, the structure and the functions of women police in Tamil Nadu.

Table 1.2

Summary of studies reported in the book

#

Fieldwork Objective Date

Method

Sample

Main Findings

1

1988

Self-admin. Survey

2

1994

196 US and 183 Indian Women Officers 3 AWPUs 61 Officers

Indian officers preferred a Natarajan, 1991, 1994, traditional/modified role; US 1996a,1996b preferred integrated role Preferred the wider range of duties and Natarajan, 1996b enjoyed working only with women

3

2000a

Progress of women in AWPUs

Improved self-confidence in women officers. Optimistic about combining police and family duties.

Natarajan, 2001, 2005

4

2000b

Roles of women recruited in 1997

Self-admin. Survey; Interviews

19 AWPUs 140 Women Officers 75 Women Officers 104 Officers 55 Officers

Many more of the 1997 recruits want to be fully integrated than officers in AWPUs

Natarajan, 2003, 2005

5

2003a

Effectiveness of AWPUs

Office Records; Interviews

Natarajan, 2005a, 2006c, 2007

6

2003b

Evaluation of Training in Dispute Resolution

AWPUs encourage reporting of crimes against women and reduce violence against women. But some training needed E-training effective

7

2007

Pilot Study of All Women Informal Battalion (AWB) Interviews

Compare role preferences of women officers in India and US Roles of women officers deployed in AWPUs

Observation; Self-admin. Survey Observation; Self-admin. Survey; Interviews

474 cases in 3 AWPUs 60 Women Petitioners Process and 3 AWPUs Impact Evaluation 30 Women Officers 30 Women Officers in Battalion

Women officers in AWB prefer AWPU assignment on completion of training

Publication

Natarajan, 2006a, 2006b, 2006c

20

Women Police in a Changing Society

Chapter 5 which draws upon Natarajan (1991, 1994, 1996a, 2001a), reports a study of the status of Tamil Nadu women police in the 1980s and makes a comparison with women officers in the US. Chapter 6 which draws upon Natarajan (1991, 1996b, 2001a, 2003, 2006b, 2006c) describes the all women police units (AWPUs) in Tamil Nadu and reports a study of what women police in the units feel about their roles, career commitment and gender role conflicts. It also reports a study of the effectiveness of AWPUs in reducing domestic violence. Further, the chapter reports an evaluation of training given to women officers in the units on dispute resolution, interviewing, and data management. Chapter 7 which draws upon Natarajan (2001a and 2003) discusses the impact of labor law legislation in Tamil Nadu, which required more women to be recruited to the police force. It also reports a study of the experience of the women recruited in 1997 under this legislation. Chapter 8 reports the experience of segregated policing in Brazil and Pakistan and considers the implications for policing in traditional cultures. Chapter 9 provides prescriptions for 21st-century women policing in terms of theory, research, and policy. It takes into account the lessons learned from the Tamil Nadu model of women policing in discussing the merits of integrated and “gendered” models of policing. The book’s closing remarks emphasize the importance of gendered policing as a precursor to full integration, at least for traditional societies.

Chapter 2

Three Decades of Research on Women Police: What Has Been Learned? Though based on a detailed case study of the role of women in the Tamil Nadu Police force, this book is intended to contribute to the broad and vexed question of the most appropriate role for women police officers—one that will satisfy the needs of women officers and the police forces that employ them, as well as the needs of society. This question has dominated much of the literature on policewomen and in order to place the Tamil Nadu case study in broader context, this chapter reviews that literature—at least that part of it published in English. A search through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service and Criminal Justice Abstracts yielded 487 publications about women police officers (articles, research reports, dissertations, and books) published between 1970 and 2005 (see the bibliography).1 As would be expected, most of these English-language publications emanate from the US or the UK, with only a handful from other parts of the world. In order to limit what otherwise might have been an unmanageable undertaking the literature was divided into five principal topics that bear directly on the larger question of the role of women officers, as follows: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

The history of women in policing Impediments to integration Perceived performance and job satisfaction Current status of women police worldwide Prospects for full integration

Each study was then examined to see which of the five topics it principally addressed (see Table 2.1). Table 2.1 shows a steady increase in the publications for the past 35 years. The greatest number of studies have been concentrated on the impediments to women’s progress in policing. Of the 70 studies concerned with women policing around the world, only very few related to traditional or developing countries. The discussion below of the literature on women policing is organized around these five topics.2 In each section, certain individual studies are discussed in detail. 1 Some later articles not included in this review are referred to subsequently elsewhere in the book. 2 This review draws on Natarajan’s (2005b) introduction to her Women Police encyclopedia published by Ashgate.

Women Police in a Changing Society

22

These studies are either frequently cited or the most comprehensive, recent studies on the topic. Table 2.1

Primary focus of 487 published studies on women police (1970–2005)

Topics

1970–1979

1980–1989

1990–1999

2000–2005

1970–2005

History

4

4

17

15

40

Impediments to Integration

13

38

68

57

176

Performance and Job Satisfaction

14

24

39

34

111

4

13

31

22

70

10

27

31

22

90

45

106

186

150

487

Women Police Worldwide Prospects for Full Integration Total

History of Women in Policing Many accounts exist of the origins of women’s entry into the police. They document strong opposition to the employment of women and describe the ways in which this opposition has been partially overcome so that now women have achieved a greater degree of integration in the police of Britain, America, Australia and Europe. The topics discussed in this section include resistance to the deployment of women, segregation of duties, stereotypes about women’s physical fitness, and doubts about their capacity to exercise authority and employ force when needed. Most of the research is based on the US and British experience and this is summarized separately below. Experience in the United States According to Horne (1980) women have been used throughout American history as spies and agents for various governmental and military intelligence organizations. They have also worked successfully as undercover agents and detectives for such private security agencies as Pinkerton, Burns and Wells Fargo. But their potential role as fully sworn policewomen has been recognized only relatively recently. The first “modern” city police organizations established in the 1840s recruited only men and it was not until 1910 that the first policewomen were hired. These were

Three Decades of Research on Women Police

23

recruited by the city of Los Angeles, specifically to protect women and children, and were placed in a new division called the city mother’s bureau. The bureau offered confidential advice to women on domestic matters such as desertion, non-support, battery and unruly children. During World War I and in the post-war period, women were admitted to a number of police departments in a quasi-police capacity. Policewomen of this period worked in separate units performing duties of a preventive nature, dealing with juvenile delinquency, female criminality, missing persons, and aiding and interviewing victims of sex crimes. They received less pay than male officers, although most women far surpassed male officers in terms of educational qualifications (Horne, 1980). In the 1950s and 1960s, an increasing number of police agencies employed women to perform in-house clerical and communications support roles (Horne, 1980; Schulz, 1989, 1993a, 1993b, 1995). According to Parsons and Jesilow (2001b), women were grudgingly accepted into police work, but almost exclusively because they handled situations disliked by men, in particular incidents that involved women and children. In general, they performed a variety of “social work” roles and carried out many tasks resembling standard police work such as interviewing victims of sexual assault, interrogating women prisoners, record keeping, disseminating information to the public, taking complaints, patrolling areas of prostitution, and dealing with juvenile offenders or cases involving minors (Talney, 1969). The argument that female officers were inherently better suited than male officers to handle cases of women and children succeeded in getting women into the police force, but it fostered gender-based occupational segregation. In 1956, the New York Police Department (NYPD) established “women’s bureaus” whose purpose was to provide a central office where women and girls could seek police help in a home-like atmosphere. The bureaus were viewed by many of the women officers assigned to them as a physical and spiritual refuge for the city’s troubled women and children—a place where women could find a network of support and advice open to them 24 hours a day. However, many leading policewomen of the day disliked the bureaus and the philosophy underlying their practices, and they took every opportunity to criticize them. Some argued that policewomen could more effectively carry out their special duties if they were assigned to police stations. Others claimed that policemen made poor supervisors of policewomen. In her book, Owings (1969) made the case for female-headed women bureaus. She argued that women’s bureaus in Detroit and Washington were successful because their female directors were free to select their own personnel and implement their own programs of preventive work. Despite being surrounded by controversy, the bureaus continued to survive, though 180 women working in them were reassigned in 1967 to precinct desk jobs. This was symptomatic of the major changes taking place in the 1960s and 1970s, both in society at large as well as in policing. A milestone in achieving occupational equality with men was achieved by policewomen in 1972, when 15 women volunteered to

24

Women Police in a Changing Society

go on patrol as an experiment. The following year, with the experiment deemed a success, both the policewomen’s bureaus and the title of “policewoman” were abolished. A new title of “police officer” was established for both male and female members of the service, and hundreds of female police officers joined the NYPD patrol force. The amendment of the Civil Rights Act in 1972 hastened the changes in the role of women in policing (Berg and Budnick, 1986). Title VII of the Civil Rights Act enshrined the principle that women could negotiate identical terms and compensation for doing the same work as men. Together with amendments to the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, this provided the legal basis for women officers to achieve a functional status similar to that of their male counterparts. The effects were immediate, with the number of women officers doubling between 1971 and 1977. In 1975, serious attention began to be paid to female offenders and the rise in female criminality. Freda Adler’s ‘Sisters in Crime’ (1975) and Rita Simon’s ‘Women and Crime’ (1975) brought the problem to the attention not only of criminologists, but also of those in the law enforcement field—which in turn helped justify hiring more female officers to deal with female criminals. Today, a large number of women in the United States are performing a wide range of law enforcement duties, including those traditionally considered appropriate primarily for men, such as patrolling, traffic control, and investigation. These duties, however, tend to be at the lower end of the task scale (Sulton and Townsey, 1981). Fairly equal proportions of men and women are assigned to patrol, administrative, and technical functions in municipal departments, but relatively more women are assigned to juvenile functions and more men are still assigned to traffic and investigative functions. A fuller analysis of the work of policewomen is presented later in this chapter. In recent years, efforts to attract and hire women into law enforcement careers have been minimal. Pervasive negative beliefs regarding the abilities of women to perform the police role continue to exist, despite research findings that women perform equally as well as their male counterparts. Efforts to integrate women into police work have fallen short, largely because they have not altered the value system supporting negative attitudes about the capabilities of women. Even so, the improvements in status gained by women officers in the United States through equal opportunity legislation and the feminist movement have encouraged policewomen around the world to demand equal treatment with their male counterparts. British Experience The same general picture is apparent in the United Kingdom as in the United States. Women’s involvement in policing was initially the result of social reform movements, which were given impetus by the huge depletion of manpower caused by World War I and the consequent need to draw upon the reserve of female labor. Public concern about the safety of women and girls entering the workforce in such large

Three Decades of Research on Women Police

25

numbers prompted various voluntary organizations to set up preventive patrols. In 1919, 100 patrolwomen were employed in these roles, but were not granted formal status because the existing Police Acts applied only to men. In addition, there was considerable hostility to the idea of women police from both the public and the police service. The role of women police was formally considered by Parliament in 1920, and in 1922 the full powers of a sworn constable were granted to women. In 1930, the contribution made by policewomen was recognized in standards that were established for pay and conditions of service. This set the stage for women policing in Britain for the next 45 years. By 1971, there were 3,884 women officers representing 3.9 percent of total national police strength. The principal duties included: enquiries concerning crimes against women; interrogation and escorting of female offenders; investigations of female missing persons; handling cases of domestic problems; and maintaining records. These duties were performed in policewomen’s departments that had their own rank and promotion structure and their own inspectorate. They had morning and afternoon shifts, but none in the evening or at night. In 1975, the Sex Discrimination Act had a major impact on the role of women police. This resulted in full integration into the mainstream of policing on equal terms with men, including night shifts and all aspects of patrol and specialist work (Jones, 1986). According to Heidensohn (1992), there are significant differences in the attitudes of women police in the US. and Britain. In the US, there is a greater awareness of gender issues and greater support for, and appreciation of the feminist movement. American women police officers are aggressive and forthright in demanding equality in the police force. Unlike the UK, women in America were able to employ litigation to gain entry to the police and they have a more extensive and well-organized national networks. For example, Alice Stebbins Wells founded the International Association for Women Police (IAWP) in 1915, which was reestablished in 1956. Currently, about 2,400 police officers and other law enforcement professionals from more than 45 countries belong to the organization. The National Center for Women and Policing, a division of the Feminist Majority Foundation (founded in 1987), has the resources to gather national level statistics, to organize specialized training for women officers, and to campaign for equal pay and treatment. In Britain, entry of women into the police force was more delayed than in America, but in other respects the progress they have made to integration appears similar to that in the Untied States. In both the United States and Britain, the acceptance of women in the police has depended upon a confluence of several key factors: favorable public attitudes towards women participation in the labor force, especially in male-dominated jobs; women’s support groups, and legislation condemning gender discrimination and sexual harassment.3

3 This has also been the case in Australia where public support for women in the police was strong, even before equal opportunities legislation came into force (Prenzler, 1994).

26

Women Police in a Changing Society

The Changing Roles of Women Police Early descriptions of the experiences of women who were among the first to be employed in the police show that, despite the stultifying influence of the maledominated policing culture, they did perform a valuable, though segregated, function in assisting women victims and dealing with women offenders (Corbo, 2004; Darien, 2002; Gillen, 2003; Jackson, 2003; Schulz, 2004a, 2004b, and Wells, 2005). According to Alice Stebbins Wells (1913), apart from patrolling amusement places, women officers had “regular office hours and women come for help and advice which they would not go to the regular police department.” This created a marginal role for women in policing, but provided “a female gendered identity which had as a premise the idea that women were necessary and natural protectors of women and children…” Women officers were able to cultivate an image of themselves as intelligent, sympathetic caseworkers, finding non-coercive solutions to problems of crime. It is also apparent that women helped shape the direction of police reform in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century. For example, they actively searched their communities for the social conditions that supposedly hid or encouraged crime, such as dark streets, certain types of dance halls and “blind pigs” (places where people bought and/or drank liquor illegally), and thus helped create a safer environment for women and children. Policewomen in plain clothes regularly patrolled certain public areas, such as theaters, amusement parks, and railway stations, with an eye towards detecting and interrupting illegal behavior for evidence of offenses against middle-class moral standards, such as the sale of allegedly obscene literature and erotic styles of dancing. In many respects they were public chaperones (Appier, 1992, p.13).

In the 1910s to 1930s, women officers in America were assimilated into the general crime prevention role of the police, even though the tasks they performed in this role were rather circumscribed (Appier, 1992). Later, when policing began to move to a crime control model, women officers increasingly found their work devalued and their functions increasingly segregated. This trend culminated in the establishment of women police bureaus where women and children coming to police attention would be channeled for help in personal matters. These bureaus were subsequently abolished as a result of the broader social movement for equal status and employment for women. In her book From Social Worker to Crime Fighter, Schulz (1995b) explains that the generation of women officers recruited immediately after World War II was mostly recruited from the middle class and was relatively well educated.4 These 4 In her recent (2004) book Breaking the Brass Ceiling: Women Police Chiefs and Their Paths to the Top, Schulz provides an account of women sheriffs and chiefs which traces the histories of these women prior to the 1920s.

Three Decades of Research on Women Police

27

officers put more emphasis on professionalism than equality and were generally content to work in the women’s bureaus. It was the later generation of recruits, generally drawn from the working class and with only a high school diploma, who became frustrated with their segregation in the bureaus and who claimed the right to do the same work as male officers. One of the first empirical studies of women police was conducted by Martin (1989b). Her work explored the effect on recruitment of women officers of the 1972 Amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 eliminating discriminatory practices. Her data from 319 agencies show a marked upturn in recruitment, but data on retention and promotion show a mixed picture regarding the status of women in policing. Most had followed a career path somewhat different from men and while some reached the higher ranks, this was not in proportion to the numbers recruited. Martin (1990, p.xvii) comments: “Despite changes in equal opportunity policies many of the barriers women officers face are built into a formal organizational culture of policing, as well as culturally prescribed patterns of male/female interaction which remain strong.” Women were kept out of any upward mobility because of the often reported constraints such as male colleagues’ appraisals, chivalry attitudes by their supervisors and the perceived notion of lack of commitment to a police career. In her chapter on “Rather Fearful Experiments,” Segarve (1995) notes that the role of policewomen developed in other countries for basically the same reasons and under the same conditions as in the United States. For example, though the first female officer was appointed in Australia in 1915, women police were hired to respond to the rapid growth in automobile use, which resulted in an expanded role for police in traffic control. Prenzler (1998b), who describes the history of women policing in that country, reports that few of the women recruited were assigned different roles, primarily because of low scores on physical ability tests. He argues that the case for employing women officers can no longer be based on the concept of their distinctive contribution to police work—though at the same time the rights of women offenders and victims to be dealt with by their own gender remain valid grounds for employing equal numbers of women officers. He emphasizes the important role played by pressure exerted by powerful political figures (especially women) in moving police further down the path of gender equality. In summary, women were first inducted into the police force to fill an auxiliary role, which helps explain the slow progress they have made. However, over the years, policies promoting equal opportunity and discouraging sex discrimination and sexual harassment have made some impact on the numbers of women recruited and on their deployment in a wider range of duties. Impediments to Integration The barriers working against the full integration of women into law enforcement are embedded in the historical evolution of policing and are linked to the status

28

Women Police in a Changing Society

of women in particular societies (United Nations, 1985). These barriers are: (a) long-standing socio-cultural perceptions of the nature of police work; (b) features of the organizational structure of law enforcement and the police subculture; and most important (c) pervasive stereotyping of female police officers by their male colleagues, supervisors, and the public at large. The Nature of Police Work Policing is generally considered to be a stressful job, especially for women officers. The main sources of stress are: the work environment, including lack of peer support and trust; social and family pressures, the bureaucratic nature of the organization; and lack of time or opportunity to make use of coping mechanisms. On the basis of interviews with 30 male and 30 female officers in one Vermont municipal department, Bartol et al. (1992) report that stressors are generally the same for both men and women officers. However, women officers experienced more stress when exposed to tragedy, and felt more responsibility for the safety of the public and their professional colleagues. Women also reported stress associated with working in a male-dominated occupation, resulting from sexual harassment and negative attitudes towards female officers. Though sexual harassment is a serious concern, according to Martin (1996) it is not the most important one for women officers. Issues surrounding maternity leaves and childcare have greater ramifications for the careers of women police officers. Martin emphasizes the need to deal directly with these issues, but she recognizes that this requires an unusual degree of commitment and a certain amount of “moral bravery” by senior officials. She also criticizes the feminist perspective as being too one-sided and recommends that male officers’ views be canvassed when examining equal opportunity policies. He, Zhao and Archbold (2002) compare survey data obtained from 943 men and 157 women officers in Baltimore. They report that women officers have higher levels of depression compared to their male counterparts. In seeking to cope with depression, women were more likely to take constructive steps, such as seeking spiritual guidance and discussing problems with their husbands, family members, and friends. Police Organizational Culture On the basis of repertory grid interviews with 51 male and female officers, Dick and Jankowicz (2001) examine whether the police organizational culture is a major impediment to women’s advancement in the police. Of the 11 categories identified by the respondents as central themes, commitment seems to be interpreted differently by men and women. Specifically, women officers choose not to work longer hours due to their family commitments. This has a negative impact on their chances of promotion. The authors conclude that gender influences organizational culture

Three Decades of Research on Women Police

29

through socio-cultural transmission of gender-differentiated expectations such as who should be the primary caregiver at home. Brown, Maidment and Bull (1993) examine self-report data collected from three groups: 32 male officers, 31 women officers and 32 sergeants. They found gender difference in only four of the 17 attributes studied. Women considered themselves as having effective listening skills and as being more likely to show consideration for others, while men were more likely to rate themselves higher for physical strength and their ability to use physical force. This was confirmed by the sergeants’ ratings of these officers. These differences were reflected in different deployment patterns. Men were more often assigned to public order duties and dealing with traffic accidents; women were more often assigned to dealing with victims of sexual offenses. The data also indicates that in only one of the ten duties—public order—was physical strength considered important, but women were often not assigned to these tasks. The study concludes that gender bias could be the major force in explaining the differential treatment of women in policing. Resistance from Male Officers Almost all research studies show that male officers resist the entry of women into the police force and most doubt that they can perform as well as males (Dorsey and Giacopassi, 1986; Balkin, 1988). Using survey data collected in 1977 from a sample of 740 officers in 24 police departments, Worden (1993) examined officers’ attitudes to their roles, to citizens, to their colleagues and departments, and regarding occupational integration. She found few differences and notes that these might simply be the product of different experiences of male and female officers in the police. She suggests there is a tendency in gender research to comb through data to find differences that might in fact be small or unimportant, and argues that over time men’s and women’s views will converge as a result of women being employed in a greater variety of roles. Finally, she points out that research usually overlooks positive aspects of feminine behaviors such as attentiveness and responsiveness to citizens. It has traditionally been thought that women do not belong in patrol because of their lack of physical strength and their inability to maintain an authoritative presence in the face of conflict. It has also been argued that women officers might create danger for male colleagues and for the public during violent situations (Jones, 1986; Grennan, 1987a). Based on data obtained from 300 men and 59 women constables in the Queensland police, French and Waugh (1998) report that the perceptions of women as the “weaker sex” has fuelled these attitudes. They argue that actions of chivalry or gallantry by male peers or supervisors which attempt to shield women from potentially violent situations may effectively reduce their exposure to a range of policing experiences, thereby disadvantaging their chances of advancement and perpetuating the stereotypical view of women as the weak link.

30

Women Police in a Changing Society

Many studies show that physical strength tests in police forces are discriminatory (Charles, 1982; Evans, 1980; Prenzler, 1996). In spite of condemnation by the courts of the use of height and weight standards, many police departments continue to use physical tests. Birzer and Craig (1996) review eight years’ worth of data to see whether the test measures abilities demanded by various police tasks. They found little relationship between the abilities tested and the physical demands of the job. Attitudes and perceptions change over time and what may have been true in the 1970s and 1980s may not hold now. Breci (1997) reports a study designed to find out whether the public still hold the same stereotypical attitudes prevalent in the 1970s and 1980s about the capacity of female officers to deal with violence. After questioning 702 individuals (42 percent male and 58 percent female), he reports that, while most people believe that women are as good as men in performing police duties, some gender differences were perceived. Male police officers were characterized by aggressiveness, resourcefulness, and bravery, while women officers were identified with empathy, nurturing, and sensitivity. Using survey data collected from 263 women and 320 men in one police force in England, Holdaway and Parker (1998) analyze the different ways in which perceived gender roles and internal organizational culture combine to structure women’s employment in the police. Conflicts between home and work make it difficult for women officers to meet their professional goals, despite their strong commitment to key values of the occupation. But they are also hindered by dominant ideas about who should be employed on different types of police work—ideas that, for example, resulted in the exclusion of women officers from the CID. In sum, studies have repeatedly shown that gender role expectations play an important role in the deployment of women officers. Though women are often assigned tasks that are gender-specific and do not require “muscle,” they must meet the same physical standards as men on being hired. The nature of the job is considered stressful for both men and women officers, but women have to go through additional emotional stressors such as an unfriendly atmosphere and sexual harassment. Perceived Performance and Job Satisfaction Can women officers perform patrol duty as effectively as men? In the United States, this was the question addressed by nine major studies of women on patrol conducted in the 1970s (1) Bloch and Anderson (1974), Washington DC; (2) Vera Institute of Justice (1974), New York City; (3) Sherman (1975), St Louis County; (4) California Highway Patrol (1976), State of California; (5) Bartlett and Rosenblum (1977), Denver; (6) Kizziah and Morris (1977), Newton, Massachusetts; (7) Pennsylvania State Police Department Headquarters (1973), State of Pennsylvania; (8) Bartell and Associates (1978), Philadelphia (Phase I and Phase II); (9) Sichel et al. (1978), New York City.

Three Decades of Research on Women Police

31

Morash and Greene (1986) reviewed the nine evaluation studies and found that the gender differences reported are the result of psychological or biological characteristics of women and the failure to examine differences within same-sexed groups. They argue that the research problem is more related to a biased definition of the police role than to gender differences. They also identified several other shortcomings in the studies, including a failure to evaluate the accomplishment of identifiable police tasks or to specify preferred behaviors. Furthermore, many studies were prefaced on conformity with male stereotypes, which is questionable in assessing women’s performance. Although few important differences in the performance of men and women have been found in these studies, it has been generally found that women can more often successfully resolve conflicts without resorting to force. Perhaps this is the standard against which the performance of men might be judged! Bloch and Anderson’s (1974) study was conducted at a time when large numbers of women were entering the police in America. The study addressed the following issues: recruitment and selection, differences in work assignments between men and women, attitudes of counterparts, and supervisor’s expectations. Bloch and Anderson concluded that many police departments assign women to patrols only because of legal requirements. Women were assigned to regular uniformed patrol less frequently than men and the assignments in the patrol unit were different for male and female officers. For example, men were less often assigned to station duty and more often assigned to one-officer cars. Women were given inside assignments. Men made more arrests (felony and misdemeanor) than women, although the arrests made by women resulted as frequently in convictions. Women tended to handle more service calls than men. Women obtained the same results as men in handling angry or violent situations. Women received the same amount of backup, or assistance, from other police units as men. Women were given similar performance ratings on several patrol skills on a special rating form; however, it was concluded that men received higher ratings on ability to handle various violent situations and general competence to perform street patrol. Due to the injuries caused during violent situations, women were more likely than men to be placed on light duty by the police departments. Though most of these studies were hampered by methodological problems or limited samples, in aggregate they showed that women are able to perform as well as men on general patrol. More specifically, they showed that: (1) women perform patrol duties as well as men; (2) women perform better than men in situations with children and women; and (3) women are good at defusing potentially violent situations. Despite this research, the assumed inability of women to cope with violence runs through many of the arguments for restricting women’s role in the police force. Feminist scholars have been critical of much of the research comparing the abilities of male and female officers. Their two basic charges are that the research concentrates on (1) variables that are highly valued because they are associated with maleness, and (2) variables that distinguish men and women rather than the variables that unite them.

32

Women Police in a Changing Society

In any field of work, level of performance is the key for upward mobility. According to the American literature, women have proved that they are competent and efficient in police work. They have demonstrated the ability to prevent violent situations and to communicate with citizens, and their attitude has often proved to be more effective than male muscle power (Bloch and Anderson, 1984; Sherman, 1975; California Highway Patrol, 1976; Kizziah and Morris, 1977; Bartlett and Rosenblum, 1977; Sichel et al., 1978). Women have achieved promotion records traditionally held by men alone (Schulz, 2004b). These studies gave reason to policymakers and administrators to have confidence in women’s abilities and encouraged more recruitment of women. There is now a higher percentage of women serving as line officers in the police force, and administrators have begun to ask what can be done to help them in their work: how can training standards and hiring practices be improved, what are women’s expectations in the police force, what can be done to motivate them, and how can male officers’ attitudes toward their female counterparts be improved? In sum, as noted by many evaluations, women perform the same as men, but the gender stereotype still prevails within the police and the general public that women cannot handle violent situations. In addition, the particular strengths of women in dealing with certain policing tasks continue to be overlooked. This is partly because performance appraisals tend to be weighted towards masculine qualities. Thus, in spite of the many success stories of women in policing, women officers are still not assigned to the full range of tasks and are often given little credit for things that they do better than men. Status of Women Police Worldwide Most cross-cultural comparisons of police have focused exclusively on men (Bayley, 1976, 1985) and those that have included women have usually covered only western nations. Lewis Sherman (1973) was the first to discuss women police in nations other than the United States and Great Britain. His descriptive study of 21 countries briefly touches on the roles of women officers. Shane’s (1980) comparative study of five countries (India, Israel, the United States, the Netherlands, and Great Britain) included brief descriptions of the role of women officers. A later comparative study, conducted by the United Nations (1985), presented a detailed description of the involvement of women worldwide in various criminal justice system sectors and compared differing national stages of development during the years 1970 to 1982. This first global survey reports that the participation of women in criminal justice increased with economic advancement, social change, and modernization. The changing world climate for the employment of women as practitioners and administrators in law enforcement is clearly reflected in the results of the survey. The most dramatic increases in the employment of women during the period 1970 to

Three Decades of Research on Women Police

33

1982 occurred in law enforcement, in which 35.2 percent of the responding countries (n=53) reported an increase over the period considered. By region, countries in Western Europe and North America reported by far the largest increases of women in law enforcement—57.9 percent of the reporting countries (n=19)—followed by Asia and the Pacific with 44.4 percent (n=9); Eastern Europe with 33.3 percent (n=3) and Latin America and the Caribbean with 30 percent (n=10). On the progress of women in law enforcement by status of development, 65.2 percent of the reporting developed countries (n=23) registered an increase in female employment, followed by 14.8 percent (n=24) of the developing countries. The least developed countries reported no increase. Though data obtained in this survey were just approximations, this was a vital first step toward a greater understanding of women in law enforcement across the globe. Brown, Hazenberg and Ormiston’s (1999) chapter in Mawby’s (1999) Policing Across the World provides a review of European, African and Asian women in policing. This study highlighted a general disagreement among women officers about their role. The more radical feminists wished women police to protect other women from violence from men. In contrast, and more dominant, were those policewomen who saw their role as public servants preserving the status quo, exercising the same controls over women as policemen. Further, there are two schools of thought amongst women officers—one viewed the support role played by women officers as entirely appropriate and the other viewed it as discriminatory. The review noted the importance of the support of male colleagues as an important factor in the progress of women police and concludes thats despite nearly 100 years of women’s involvement in police, they are still a marginalized minority. The Statistical Picture The Sixth United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems shows that there are several countries with a higher representation of women in the police than the United States (see Table 2.2). These are mostly countries that have the resources and data needed to complete the survey. Very few developing countries supplied data for the survey, but in most of these countries women officers comprise less than 5 percent of total strength. More surprising is that women comprise less than 5 percent of total strength in a number of developed countries including Spain, Portugal, Iceland, and Italy. The only studies of women police that go beyond western nations are descriptive accounts of the numbers of women officers and the ways that they are deployed. Though few of the studies are in depth, they confirm that the progress of women police in traditional societies is far behind that of their western counterparts (Sherman, 1977; Yang, 1985; Stevens and Patlye, 1985; Fairchild, 1987; Igbinovia, 1987; Natarajan, 1996a; Pagon and Lobnikar, 1999; Brown and Heidensohn, 2000; Flavin and Bennett, 2001).

Women Police in a Changing Society

34

Table 2.2

Female police personnel in selected countries (2000 and 1997) (percentage of total strength)

Country

Percentage 2000

Country

1997

Percentage 2000

1997

1

Korea

2.4

1.7

24 Andorra

NR

8.6

2

Moldova, Rep.

3.5

1.8

25 Ireland

12.1

8.7

3

India

2.2

1.9

26 Romania

8.6

8.8

4

Spain

3.6

3.0

27 Sri Lanka

5.3

8.8

5

Japan

3.7

3.4

28 Poland

9.6

9.0

6

Turkey

4.5

3.4

29 Maldives

NR

9.9

7

Portugal

3.8

3.6

30 Malaysia

9.7

10.2

8

Iceland

0.0

4.4

31 China

11.25

11.2

9

Kazakhstan

10.0

4.4

32 Czech Republic

10.7

11.5

10 Slovenia

7.1

4.4

33 Lithuania

14.1

11.6

11 Italy

5.3

4.5

34 Tanzania

NR

12.0

12 Colombia

5.0

4.6

35 Tonga

NR

13.9

13 Ukraine

NR

4.9

36 New Zealand

NR

14.6

14 Mauritius

5.4

5.5

37 Netherlands

17.1

14.8

15 Denmark

7.7

6.1

38 Thailand

5.0

15.5

16 Finland

8.6

6.3

39 Hong Kong

12.5

18.2

17 Zimbabwe

6.5

6.9

40 Bahamas

NR

18.8

18 Chile

6.0

7.0

41 South Africa

21.4

19.5

19 Greece

NR

7.0

42 Israel

NR

20.2

20 Belgium

NR

7.3

43 Singapore

19.1

21.6

21 Cyprus

NR

7.3

44 Estonia

26.0

23.0

22 Croatia

NR

7.5

45 Sweden

17.3

32.1

23 Fiji

NR

7.7

Source: Sixth and Seventh United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems

Women Police in Developed Countries Yang (1985) reports a comparative study of female policing in Taiwan and the United States, which describes the role of women in law enforcement agencies and attempts to analyze structural, historical, and cultural aspects of women in policing. An examination of these areas suggests possible causes of the variations between countries. For example, the police in Taiwan are highly centralized under a rigid bureaucracy. This means that women officers have less chance to bring about

Three Decades of Research on Women Police

35

changes in department policies when compared to American women, who work in much smaller, more independent forces and who are more successful in exerting influence on departmental polices. Women officers in Taiwan also feel more pressure to conform to prevailing cultural norms, especially concerning the importance of meeting family responsibilities. The women’s movement in Taiwan is still in its infancy and it will take a while to have an impact in that society. Stevens and Aldrich (1985) compare the integration of women officers in the police forces of West Germany and the United States. It concludes that West German acceptance and use of women in uniformed service is five to ten years behind the United States, but that the German police have deliberately sought to create equal opportunities for women. With the current level of integration of women at the lower ranks of the police service, some six to eight years will likely be required before females will be seen in larger numbers in the higher ranks. Pagon and Lobnikar (1999) report that women police were first hired in Slovenia in 1973. Soon after that, there was a halt in hiring until 1997 when 55 women were admitted and trained, primarily to deal with women and children. These women police officers said that they had joined the police because they perceived policing to be diverse work that provided opportunities for helping and interacting with the public. They believed that police work contributed to their own personal growth and gave them the opportunity to prove their own capabilities and to influence events in society. A recent study by Beck, Barko and Tatarenko (2003), based on data collected from nearly 500 serving officers in Kyiv relating to the experiences of female officers working within the post-Soviet Ukrainian militia, shows that women officers are significantly more dissatisfied with their role, have a poorer relationship with their line managers and perceive that they receive a more authoritarian and directive style of management than their male counterparts. Resetnikova (2004) reports in a recent conference paper that, “Since the reestablishment of the Estonian Police in 1991, the reorganization and ongoing reforms of the police have resulted in changes in which members of society join the police, as well as in the roles of the police in society.” As of 2004, female police officers constitute 30.1 percent of the sworn police personnel, which is a much higher percentage than in most other police agencies. However, many female officers in Estonia are working at positions that offer them little prestige in the police organization. They tend to get lower salaries than men and gain little or no access to higher positions. Shadmi (1993) explores the status of women in the Israeli police force. She concludes that women have not been fully integrated and they still encounter discriminatory practices. However, progress is slowly being made, which she attributes to successful performance of duties, unified pressure to obtain promotion, some enlightened thinking among senior officials, and the growing intolerance of sex discrimination.

36

Women Police in a Changing Society

Women Police in Developing and Traditional Societies To achieve any degree of recognition in the force, women in traditional societies have had to work much harder than their male counterparts. Banks (2001) describes the case of women police in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and compares their situation with the United States and Britain. The study identifies some similarities, such as the reluctance of police managers to expose women officers to the risk of violence on patrol and the recognition of women’s expertise in dealing with women and children. In PNG, they play a particularly valuable role in marital conflicts. In western countries, when couples need assistance they generally turn to marriage counseling services. In PNG society, however, there is traditionally little distinction between the public and the domestic realm and so the public constantly seeks the help of constabulary to intervene in marital problems. In this regard, the involvement of women officers added a new feature to policing. Natarajan’s (2006a) paper on women policing in the Asian region reveals growing acceptance of the need for gender-sensitive policing, including the use of women officers in dealing with violence against women. Many police forces in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines are creating women’s desks, women cells, women stations, women bureaus and women units in order to open up opportunities for women to serve in the police as well as to deal with the increased numbers of domestic violence cases now being reported. According to Natarajan’s review, women take up a career in the police service to ensure personal security and to help other women. The review also suggests that local culture and norms greatly influence the deployment of women police officers in line duties (Aleem, 1991; Banks, 2001; Bhardwaj, 1999; Boni and Circelli, 2002; Natarajan, 1996a, 1996b, 2001, 2003, 2005a, 2005b; Prenzler and Hennessey, 2000; Prenzler, 1995, 1998, 2004a, 2004b; Vishnoi, 1999; Wilkinson and Froyland, 1996; Wilson, 1999; Yang, 1985). Several articles on African women in law enforcement present a consistent picture of few women being hired and being deployed in “inferior jobs” (Igbinovia, 1987; Aremu and Adeyoju, 2003; Morrison, 2004). As in many other parts of the world, police administrators in Africa believe that women cannot handle regular patrol duties and so they are used in service-oriented functions relating to women and children. The women’s branch of police was first formed in Ghana in 1952, in Nigeria in 1955 and in Kenya in 1965. Igbinovia (1987:33) notes that of the thirty seven independent states in Africa, twenty-one (about 60%t) have predominantly Muslim populations. Among these groups, there is traditional reluctance to give women the same rights as men in any matter. Women are regarded as servants to their male counterparts and are not to be seen or heard. The majority of these women are still illiterate, disenfranchised and confined to their homes. Thus, few women hold jobs at all, let alone within police services.

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All three studies also report that women do not join the police force because of the risks involved, the mobility demanded, long working hours and night patrolling, unattractive living conditions, and dealing with undesirables. According to Nelson (1996), Hautzinger (2002), Ostermann (2003), and Santos (2004, 2005), women’s rights in Brazil are given little importance and women victims have had difficulty in obtaining justice through legal institutions. Working from an anthropological perspective, Santos (2004) describes how women police stations were introduced in the mid-1980s to respond more adequately to violence against women and to avoid discrimination in traditional police settings. There are now hundreds of these stations, which have high social visibility as creations of the feminist movement. This poses a problem for the women working in these stations: they owe their employment to feminist agitation, but they must not be seen themselves as feminist agitators. To succeed in the police, they must conform to the predominant male police culture. All women police units (AWPUs) have also been established in Tamil Nadu, a southern Indian state. Unlike those in Brazil, the units (now numbering 198) were not established as result of feminist pressure, but in response to widespread social concern about the plight of dowry victims. Natarajan’s (2003) study examines how this wellintentioned reform fell foul of equal opportunity legislation. Male police officers in the Tamil Nadu constabulary, angered by what they perceived as favored treatment of women, were able to instigate court rulings in 1997 that required male and female officers to serve under identical conditions. This meant that new female recruits had to endure the rigors of paramilitary training for six years in police battalions. Consequently, in 2000, the women police in Tamil Nadu, India, fell into two distinct cohorts: (1) those recruited prior to 1997 who are deployed in AWPUs, and (2) those recruited in 1997 who, as a result of equal opportunity legislation, have been placed in regular police battalions. Her study reveals considerable dissatisfaction in both cohorts. Those in the battalions deeply disliked the militaristic regime and could not wait to be assigned to regular police stations; those in the AWPUs had another 20 years to serve and were concerned about their future and the future of the units. This story of unintended consequences demonstrates how the transition to equality can encounter pitfalls at every turn. In sum, comparative and cross-cultural studies on policing have paid little attention to gender issues and the few that have been published are mostly descriptive in nature. The largest gap in knowledge concerns women policing in the former “Eastern Bloc” countries. Overall, the literature shows that women police in developed countries enjoy a better status than women police in traditional and developing countries, where women are mostly employed to deal with women and children and are rarely assigned to patrol.

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Women Police in a Changing Society

Prospects for Full Integration The first systematic study of policewomen’s views on integration, by British researcher Peter Southgate (1977), considered three main areas: the reactions of serving women to the effects of integration, the commitment of policewomen to a career in policing, and their opinions about the policing role that women could or should play. Southgate distinguished three kinds of roles: the traditional role (duties involving female offenders and victims, juveniles, and missing persons), the integrated role (the same duties as male police officers), and the modified role (similar duties to men except those where violence is anticipated). The questionnaire was developed through discussions with police officers and with reference to the research literature, mainly Bloch and Anderson’s (1974) report. Southgate distributed the questionnaires to 680 women in five police forces in the United Kingdom. He found that, overall, almost half of his survey respondents preferred a modified role, less than a third favored an integrated role, and less than a quarter preferred a traditional role. Southgate’s survey did not attempt to assess the operational or organizational effectiveness of women, as did a number of other studies conducted in the United States at that time. Instead, his survey examined female officers’ levels of confidence in handling various policing tasks. The aim was to see how women perceive themselves in undertaking conventional police work and in handling dangerous situations. The survey showed that women were generally confident in their capacity to work in these ways and that there was little support for a return to a social work role for policewomen. Southgate’s study was conducted soon after the implementation of the Sex Discrimination Act, perhaps before there had been time for its effects to be fully appreciated (Jones, 1986). Accordingly, Jones (1986) conducted a follow-up survey six years later in London. The focus of her research was to establish the nature of male attitudes, whether they were shared by female officers and, more important, whether they were reflected in formal or informal practice. Her research consisted of four parts: (1) In-depth interviews with female and male police officers (n=40), using a matched pair cohort sampling method (matched by age) to compare male and female expectations and career patterns, and attitudes and views on the effects of integration. (2) A survey questionnaire consisting of items designed to examine the deployment, training, and promotion experiences of men and women, as well as male and female attitudes toward the role of women in the police. Jones’s questionnaire benefited from Southgate’s earlier work and was refined in her own pilot study. The questionnaire was administered to all women in the force and a random, 10 percent, sample of all men, selected from the computerized force personnel list. A total of 466 police officers were sent questionnaires

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with a 75.9 percent response rate of completed surveys. (3) Observational work to examine the kinds of police tasks to which officers are deployed and whether female officers respond to and deal differently with incidents. This method helped her to discuss officers’ views about women on patrol and observe men’s attitudes toward their female counterparts. (4) Study of documentary and statistical information from 1971 to 1983, to examine trends and changes since the integration of women. She discovered that policewomen were even more confident about their abilities and their prospects than reported by Southgate—a change that could have been due to the prospects of equal opportunity in pay and conditions of service. Martin’s (1980) study of one police district in the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, DC, involved 55 police officers on patrol duty (27 males and 28 females) and was essentially a qualitative analysis of women in a male-dominated police profession. She looked at patrol assignments for women and the problems they faced, and also examined the attitudes of their male counterparts. The study raised many interesting hypotheses for further research on women breaking and entering male-dominated occupations in the criminal justice system. Research on the assimilation of women in the police forces of western countries has suggested that women police are becoming “more fully integrated into the mainstream of policing” (Heidensohn, 1992, p. 56). They are no longer confined to their own bureaus, and the roles they are asked to perform and duties required to undertake have been gradually expanding over the past two decades. The numbers of women in policing both in absolute terms and relative to men have also increased, although it is still rare for women officers to exceed 20 percent of the total in any force. Some commentators have assumed that these trends will eventually result in the full integration of women officers in the police, so that recruitment, assignment of duties, and promotions will be “gender blind.” Indeed, the focus of recent discussions of women policing frequently concerns the most efficient means for promoting this view of integration (for example, Prenzler, 1992). Prenzler and Hayes (2000) report a survey of police agencies in Australia concerned with key indicators of gender equity. The survey was designed to identify the nature of change in the prior decade and to test the capacity of senior management to evaluate performance. Marked differences were found between agencies in achieving progress and these differences indicated that management polices strongly influenced outcomes. It was also apparent that a greater commitment is needed to comprehensive data collection in order to properly diagnose and remedy inequities. In fact, they found that agencies that supplied the best data also showed the most progress in integration. Heidensohn (1998) provides a comparative account of women in policing in Britain, the US and Australia. She also reviews different models of integration of women in policing and attempts to show that comparative research using these

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Women Police in a Changing Society

models would yield valuable insights into gender and policing. She argues that a series of common themes links the experiences of women police around the world, despite considerable difference between cultures, structures, and law enforcement agencies. Despite this overall consistency, the individual careers of women officers differ significantly. Comparative research informed by the models of integration would help both the performance of agencies and the careers of individual officers. After reviewing the position of women in some European countries, Brown (1997) provides a model for studying the integration of women in the police. She made cross-cultural comparisons on four major themes: “unsuitable job for women,” “equal opportunities,” “gentle touch” and “desperate remedy.” These themes relate to constraints that inhibit the progress of women within police forces at each one of six stages of integration (entry, separate restricted development, integration, take-off, reform and tip-over). According to her analysis, nowhere in the world have women reached the tip-over stage when women play a full part in policing and achieve higher rank in greater numbers. She suggests that this stage is reached only when women comprise at least 25 percent of the force. While Brown’s model appears to hold for Western societies, all sharing a common cultural heritage, it might not hold for traditional societies with very different expectations about the roles and duties of women. Natarajan (2001) examines the argument that police women in traditional societies do not aspire to being fully integrated into mainstream policing, but may prefer a more restricted and segregated role. Using data gathered through interviews and a standardized questionnaire, her longitudinal study focused on the preferences expressed by women officers about roles and styles of policing in India and other countries. She concluded that, while progress to full integration in traditional societies may be slower, it seems to follow the same sequence of stages found in western society. Miller’s (1999) case study of community policing and gender issues in Jackson City is highly relevant to theories of integration. Through in-depth interviews with 40 neighborhood officers (past and present) and field observations of the neighborhoods, Miller examines the ambiguities that surround “feminine” skills and their enthusiastic appropriation by community policing, in contrast to their rejection in traditional policing. She shows how community policing models of the 1990s borrow from early twentieth-century police models and considers how “women’s work,” once considered to be without merit, has been transformed into the showpiece of community policing today. She goes on to raise interesting questions of how the paramilitary structure of policing and the masculine ideals it epitomizes can be transformed to honor the values of care, connection, empathy, and informality. What changes must occur to reconcile the contradictions between masculine and feminine police activities? Will male and female officers be evaluated differently because of gender-based assumptions? What matters more, the gender of the officers, or that officers of either gender can integrate “feminine” traits into social control? Finally, how do gender and gender-role expectations shape police activities? She concludes

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that traditional patrol officers and the (community policing) neighborhood officers are not as far apart as their dual images and work expectations might suggest. In sum, the studies show that, despite a long history of employment in the police, nowhere in the world are women fully integrated into policing. They are either confined to gendered tasks and treated as tokens or assigned to equal duties with reservations. The “gender neutral/gender blind” model seems to demand too many changes within the policing subculture to allow women to be fully integrated. The “gendered” model of policing introduced in Chapter 1 offers a way to move beyond this impasse by defining a separate but equal role for women officers. This model will be discussed more fully in the concluding chapter. Lessons Learned The studies reviewed in this chapter amply document the need for women officers in the police, while at the same time describing the many barriers they face in being fully assimilated. It has been shown repeatedly that there has been considerable opposition to the entry of women into policing. They were originally recruited to deal with women and children, and in many forces they have continued to occupy a marginal role despite studies showing that women perform as well as, if not better than, men in most duties. Women have not been recognized for what they can contribute, and have been neglected by their organizations and disparaged by their male counterparts. They have also been subjected to widespread sexual harassment. Even under a strong feminist agenda, western countries still have not reached their “critical mass,” that is 25 percent of women police officers in their forces. Affirmative legislation and equal opportunity standards have had limited benefits for women in the police because judgments about equality have been skewed to masculine standards. The situation is even worse for women officers in traditional and developing societies because gender bias is much more acute and prevalent in those countries than in western nations. The research reviewed in this chapter gives the overwhelming impression that a feminist perspective, whether implicit or explicit, has dominated research on women police. Most of the studies are focused on identifying and explaining barriers to the integration of women in the police. Women are painted as victims of unjust social discrimination. There has been little discussion of the choices women themselves make in joining the police or their choices once they have joined. It must be recognized, however, that policing may be seen as an unrewarding career by many young women. Future research should pay greater attention to this possibility and police managers must try to find ways of making police work more congenial to women officers. The current shift to community policing in western countries might give greater importance to crime prevention, which many women might find more satisfying than law enforcement. If so, this might improve recruitment of women and speed up the process of integration (Sims, Scarborough and Ahmad, 2003; Miller, 1999).

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Women Police in a Changing Society

Indeed, the emphasis that has been placed on the importance of gender neutrality in policing might have been a disservice to women and it will be argued in the concluding chapter that the “gendered” model of policing laid out in this book might have more to offer women police. Unless feminine skills and attributes are valued by police forces, it could be that women cannot ever achieve equal status. We must examine the human qualities needed to serve the policing goals—not only to provide better services to the public but also to provide more satisfactory careers for women officers. The lesson here is that recruitment of a greater number of women depends on a radical change in attitudes about women’s contribution to policing. Women have been trying their best to adjust to the demands of policing; it is now time for the police to adjust to the demands of women.

PART II WOMEN POLICE IN A TRADITIONAL SOCIETY

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Chapter 3

Women Police in India You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru

India—Country Profile India has a land area slightly more than one-third the size of the US and consists of 28 states and 7 union territories,1 which vary in size, population, resources, and culture. Though Hindi is spoken by 45 percent of the Indian population, it is still not considered to be the national language. In fact there are about 15 major languages and 844 different dialects in India. The Indian population has shown very rapid growth. According to the Census of India, India had a population of 548 million in 1971, 683 million in 1981, 846 million in 1991, and 1.028 billion in 2001. It is now the second most populous country in the world after China. It holds only 2.4 percent of the world’s land area, but supports over one sixth of the world’s population. Two thirds of this population lives in villages or rural areas (see Table 3.1). Table 3.1

Population by urban/rural residence in 2001, India

Residence

Person

Rural Urban

742,617,747 286,119,689

Total

1,028,737,436

Source: Office of the Registrar General, India, 2002

In 2000, the majority of the Indian population (81.3 percent) consisted of Hindus, followed by Muslims (12 percent), Christians (2.3 percent), Sikhs (1.9 percent), and a mixture of other groups including Buddhists, Jains, and Parsis (2.5 percent). The 1 Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Pondicherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.

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literacy rate has increased from 39 percent in 1991 to 54 percent in 2001. Though India has been achieving economic success in recent years, many parts of India are still below the poverty line. There has been a gradual decrease in the ratio of females per 1,000 males since 1901 (see Table 3.2). Many demographers associate this decline with a higher female mortality rate associated with the Indian preference for male children (Dreze and Sen, 1995; Swaminathan, 2002). As a result of the dowry system, female children are more often looked upon as a liability than males, and female infanticides regularly occur. Table 3.2

Female ratio

Sex ratio trends in India (1901–2001) 1901 1911

1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001

972

955

964

950

945

946

941

930

934

927

933

This short country profile provides the background for the account in this chapter of social changes that have implications for the status of women. The chapter then describes the structure and function of the police before describing the history of women’s entry into the Indian police service, their deployment, and the progress they have made to date in policing. Women, Culture and Social Changes in India According to Kuppuswamy (1975), Indian women enjoyed equal status with men between 4000-1000 B.C. the Vedic and Rig Vedic periods in Indian History. Women were required to participate with men in performing religious ceremonies and the half woman/half man portrayal of Shiva, the Indian god, is a symbolic representation of the equality of men and women. Even the Manu Shastra (BC), a Hindu canon, required women to be treated as equal and divine. The degradation of women began around 300 BC (Devi, 1993) and has been attributed to foreign invasions that brought changes in the status accorded to women. Since independence from Britain in 1947, the social position of women in India has undergone, and is still undergoing, a series of profound changes in which there were two phases. The first was characterized by the admission of women to an increasing variety of previously masculine jobs—provided that the women were unencumbered by family ties. In India, family and kinship systems govern the lives of individuals, and for women the family has priority over outside work or a career. The distinctive feature of the second phase has been the efforts made by a growing number of women to combine their family and employment responsibilities. Industrialization and modernization has shifted increasingly large numbers of

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women from the household to the work force. According to the census of India, the participation of women in the labor force increased from 15.9 percent in 1971 to 31 percent in 2001. The Indian government has taken various approaches to increase this percentage over the years: a “welfare” approach (1950s and 1960s); an “equity and antipoverty” approach (1970s); an “efficiency” approach (1980s), and currently an “empowerment” approach is being used. The Constitution of India guarantees women fundamental rights and secures their dignity under the law (see Table 3.3 below). In 1975, emancipation of women in all spheres was evaluated on the basis of a status report by the government of India, and India’s participation in the Fourth World Conference on Women held in 1995, in Beijing, resulted in the Department of Women and Child Development drafting a National Policy for the Empowerment of Women. This built upon nationwide consultations to make the status of women in all walks of life on a par with that of men and to actualize the constitutional guarantee of equality without discrimination on grounds of sex. Opportunities for women in the labor market have since been improved and, in 1997, the Labor Law required 33 percent of government jobs to be reserved for women.

Table 3.3

Constitutional Guarantees for Indian women

Fundamental Rights 14: “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” 15(1): “The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.” 15(3): “Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children.” 16(2): “No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect of, any employment or office under the State.” Directive Principles of State Policy 39: “The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing (a) that the citizens, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate means of livelihood; ... (d) that there is equal pay for equal work for both men and women; (e) that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength.”

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According to census data, the female literacy rate increased from 8.9 percent in 1951 to 54.2 percent in 2001. In recent years the female literacy rate has increased slightly faster than the male literacy rate. Though this represents progress, especially for urban women, there are many rural women still living below the poverty line, lacking education and oppressed with patriarchic values systems. The Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in India (2001) summarized the position of women as follows: • • •





There are far fewer women in the paid workforce than there are men. Women’s work is undervalued and unrecognized. Women work longer hours than men, and carry the major share of household and community work, which is unpaid and invisible. Women are under-represented in governance and decision-making positions. At present, less than 8 percent of Parliamentary seats, less than 6 percent of Cabinet positions, less than 4 percent of seats in High Courts and the Supreme Court, are occupied by women. Less than 3 percent of administrators and managers are women. Women are legally discriminated against in land and property rights. Most women do not own any property in their own names, and do not get a share of parental property. Women face violence inside and outside the family throughout their lives. Police records show that a woman is molested in the country every 26 minutes. A rape occurs every 34 minutes. Every 42 minutes, an incident of sexual harassment takes place. Every 43 minutes, a woman is kidnapped. Every 93 minutes, a woman is killed.

According to the UNDP’s Gender Development Index (GDI)2 that measures three basic dimensions comparing men and women—a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living—India ranked 128 among 178 countries in 1995. By 2003 it had moved up to 98, but at the same time, it could not even be ranked on the Gender Empowerment Index (GEM),3 a composite index measuring gender inequality in three basic dimensions of empowerment—economic participation 2 The Gender Development Index (GDI) captures average achievement to reflect the inequalities between men and women in the following dimensions: 1. A long and healthy life, as measured by life expectancy at birth. 2. Knowledge, as measured by the adult literacy rate and the combined primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrolment ratio. 3. A decent standard of living, as measured by estimated earned income. 3 The Gender Empowerment Index (GEM) focuses on women’s opportunities rather than their capabilities and it captures gender inequality in three key areas: 1. Political participation and decision-making power, as measured by women’s and men’s percentage shares of Pparliamentary seats. 2. Economic participation and decision-making power, as measured by two indicators—women’s and men’s percentage shares of positions as legislators, senior officials and managers and women’s and men’s percentage shares of professional and technical

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and decision-making, political participation and decision-making, and power over economic resources. The development of women in India is tied closely to the economic and social conditions prevailing in the society at large. There are already signs of change in the public’s attitude towards women. Even older people are changing their attitude towards their female children and are encouraging them to seek education for employment in occupations once originally dominated by males. More women are obtaining higher education and more are employed throughout the labor force. Women have demonstrated their capability in holding jobs and earning money. All this has implications for the employment of women in the Indian police force, which, as in most other countries, is male-dominated, rigid, and bureaucratic in nature. The Indian Police India’s police system was designed by the British, but it did not change even after independence in 1947 (Raghavan and Natarajan, 1996). The police are a civil authority subordinate to the Executive member—the Prime Minister in the Union Government and the Chief Minister, and their respective Councils of Ministers in the State Government. The police are organized in quasi-military bureaucratic structures and they have territorial responsibilities. They fulfill similar functions to the British police, including social control and social support (Shane, 1980). They undergo special training and are considered to be professionals. The Indian police work under two divisions: the Union or central police force and state police forces. The Union police forces include the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). Each of these is headed by a Director/Director-General of the status of a three-star General in the army and is under the control of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs headed by a Cabinet Minister. The CBI, on the other hand, is functionally controlled by the Department of Personnel of the Union Government, headed by a Minister of State reporting to the Prime Minister. Each state police force is headed by a Director-General of Police (DGP) who is equivalent in rank to his counterpart in the Union Government forces. A number of Additional Directors-General or Inspectors-General of Police (IGP) who look after various portfolios, such as Personnel, Law and Order, Intelligence, Crime, Armed Police, Training, Technical Services, and so on, are located at the State Police Headquarters and they report directly to the DGP. Major cities in a state are headed by a Commissioner of Police (CP) who, again, reports to the DGP. The states are divided into districts of varying size. In 2004, there were 676 of positions. 3. Power over economic resources, as measured by women’s and men’s estimated earned income (UNDP report, 2002, .

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these, each headed by a Superintendent of Police (SP) and supervised by a Deputy Inspector-General (DIG) whose jurisdiction is called a range, composed of a group of three or four districts. In each District and in the city police force, the basic police unit is a police station (PS). A few police stations have an out-post (OP), which is a mini-station for serving remote or trouble-prone localities. As of 2004, there are 8,052 rural police stations, 4,389 urban police stations and 293 women police stations in India. The number of police stations depends on the size of the state and the district. A SubInspector heads each police station or Inspector referred to as the Station House Officer (SHO). A designated number of constables, the lowest rank in the police force, and Head Constables are assigned to each police station. In some states, there are additional ranks, such as Assistant Sub-Inspector or Assistant Police Inspector. While urban police stations often have certain functional divisions such as Law and Order, Crime and Traffic, no such divisions exist in rural or village police stations. An armed reserve at the District Headquarters, under the command of the Superintendent of Police, handles public disturbance problems, such as religious or caste riots and clashes between political rivals. There are a few battalions of the Special Armed Police (SAP) used for more serious situations. The SAP is deployed by the Director-General of Police when the situation warrants it. For example, if during a major breakdown of public order the state police are outnumbered and unable to cope with the magnitude of the disorder, a state government may ask for central forces, especially the Central Reserve Police Force which is supported by the State government. As of 2004, the actual strength of armed police was 294,339 (officers of all ranks) which constitutes 28 percent of total police strength in India. The Criminal Investigation Department (CID), an important arm of every state police department, is headed by an Additional Director General of Police or Inspector General of Police. It is a specialized agency for conducting sensitive inquiries into allegations against public figures or police personnel. More importantly, it is entrusted with the investigation of important criminal cases, which cannot be solved by the district police. The bottom of the hierarchy, the Constabulary, is the backbone of the police force and consists of officers below the ranks of Assistant Sub Inspectors of Police. The Constabulary deals with local law and order issues and undertakes patrolling in neighborhoods; officers are not armed but they carry a long baton (a “lathi”). In India, patrol work is done on foot. In cities, depending on the rank of the police officer, patrolling is done on two-wheeled motorcycles or bicycles. Motorized patrolling is uncommon in rural India. In India, patrolling, investigation, and traffic are the most common and largest units. Specialized units are the dowry and juvenile units. Law and order is considered as the primary responsibility. The traffic control function includes accident investigation, traffic direction, and accident prevention. In India more emphasis is given to traffic direction and accident prevention than to traffic enforcement, though police motorbike patrols have recently been instituted to stop vehicles and interrogate drivers. Police are placed at traffic

Women Police in India

51

junctions to regulate the flow of vehicles; traffic lights are uncommon in rural areas and in the cities traffic lights are installed only on major roads or at junctions. Numbers of Women Police The use of women in law enforcement activities is as old as recorded Indian history. Kautilya’s Arthashastra, written about 310 BC, gives vivid accounts of the use of women as spies (Sharma, 1977). Even so, it was not until the end of the 1930s, during the colonial era, that women were inducted into the police as uniformed officers to deal with women involved in political protests. For this purpose, women officers were appointed in Kanpur in 1939 and, during the same period, one of the southern states, Travancore, appointed 12 women as special constables (Nigam, 1963). They are reported to have acquitted themselves well in this role. Before independence, women were also engaged to search women passengers at the ports of Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras (Saha, 1989). It was only after independence in 1947, however, that women were appointed in greater numbers as police officers for line duties. Women were assigned to the Prime Minister’s security force and to check “purdah-nasin” Muslim women (the traditional Muslim system of keeping women secluded by covering their faces in the presence of men by veil or curtain) who were passing through India to Pakistan. From 1960 to 1970, there was a very large increase in the number of women apprehended, convicted, and tried in India (Rao, 1975), which led the government to recruit more women into the police force to deal with this new situation. The entry of women into the police force was considered a considerable strain on the public exchequer. For example, one witness testifying before the Punjab Police Commission (1961) stated that women police were really an extravagant eccentricity, as they themselves had to be protected by the male police on various occasions when they were employed to perform their duties. The Commission acknowledged that there was considerable prejudice against the recruitment of women officers. However, its recommendations were favorable except that it was opposed to enlisting married women (Saha, 1989). As a result, many states began to employ women in their police forces in larger numbers. The need to deal with women law breakers (and victims) was reinforced by a generally raised consciousness of the position of women in the labor market. This change in attitudes was given impetus by the recommendations of the United Nations World Conference for the Decade for Women which resulted in the year 1975 being declared International Women’s Year. The suitability of women for law enforcement is no longer a matter of controversy in official circles (Mahajan, 1982).4 A number of women have successfully completed

4 Mahajan’s (1982) research, completed over three decades ago, was the first study to examine the social factors that govern women’s decisions to opt for new occupational roles in policing and the problems that they face. His sample consisted of 153 women officers

Women Police in a Changing Society

52

Table 3.4

Percentage of women police in Indian states (as of 12/31/04)

State

Percent Women

State

Percent Women

Daman & Lakshad. Nagaland Assam Orissa Jharkhand Uttar Pradesh West Bengal Andhra Pradesh Bihar Meghalaya Tripura Haryana Punjab Rajasthan Gujarat Jammu and Kashmir D & N Haveli

.00 .43 .79 1.23 1.39 1.51 1.94 2.07 2.23 2.30 2.39 2.55 2.91 3.44 3.49 3.56 3.57

Madhya Pradesh Kerala Arunachal Pradesh Delhi Uttaranchal Manipur Pondicherry Himachal Pradesh A & N Islands Maharashtra Sikkim Chandigarh Goa Karnataka Chhattisgarh Mizoram Tamil Nadu

3.69 3.91 4.32 4.60 4.95 5.12 5.13 5.83 5.84 5.94 5.97 6.59 7.01 8.41 8.77 8.87 10.54

All India

4.0

Source: Crime in India, 2004

the unisex training program at the Sardhar Vallabhai Patel National Police Academy and have been accepted by the Indian police force to serve in supervisory capacities. But the numbers of women in the police still lag far below the numbers of male officers. According to Crime in India (2004), about 4 percent of all police in India are women, with a range of 0–10.5 percent among the various states (see Table 3.4). Tamil Nadu has the high representation of women (10.5 percent) in the police force. The discrepancy in the proportions of male and female officers is most apparent at the higher ranks (see Table 3.5). Only 1.3 percent of women officers are included among the top ranking officers group, which include Director-General of Police, Additional Director-General of Police, Inspector-General of Police, and Deputy Director-General of Police. These are all IPS officers, who are recruited by the Union Public Service Commission exam. Of the 35 states including the Union Territories, only five states have such senior level women police officers, with Tamil Nadu having the highest number. It is interesting to note that Chhattisgarh state, a new born twenty-first century state, has by far the highest percentage of women

in the Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, a Union territory. It was concluded that the generally ineffective performance of women was due to the following factors: newness of their role; lack of appropriate training; prejudice and resistance from their male colleagues; existence of informal along with formal expectations; organizational apathy; lack of commitment of policewomen (especially older officers) and the negative attitude of society at large.

Women Police in India

Table 3.5

53

Percentage of women police in Indian states by rank

State

All DGs IGS/DIGS

SPs/ASP/ DSP

All Inspectors

Constables

A & N Islands

0

18.2

3.9

6.1

Andhra Pradesh

0

0

0.5

2.3

Arunachal Pradesh

0

0

2.6

4.8

Assam

0

0

0.5

.87

Chandigarh

0

0

6.0

6.7

Chhattisgarh

0

4.0

50.6

3.0

D & N Haveli

0

0

14.1

2.9

Daman & Diu

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Delhi

0

2.7

4.7

4.6

Goa

0

7.7

10.0

6.8

Gujarat

0

0

1.9

3.9

Haryana

0

0

1.3

2.8

Himachal Pradesh

0

5.0

2.5

6.5

Jammu & Kashmir

2.9

2.4

0.8

3.9

Jharkhand

0

0

0.8

1.5

Kerala

0

0.4

2.2

4.1

Maharashtra

3.0

4.1

2.5

6.7

Manipur

0

0

0.5

6.4

Meghalaya

0

4.7

3.9

2.0

Mizoram

0

0

11.2

8.4

Nagaland

0

0

0

0.5

Pondicherry

0

0

2.0

5.8

Punjab

0

0

2.9

2.9

Rajasthan

0

0.4

1.5

3.8

Sikkim

0

4.8

6.0

6.0

Tamil Nadu

6.9

7.3

10.8

10.6

Uttar Pradesh

0

2.9

1.5

1.5

Uttaranchal

5.9

1.6

4.4

5.0

West Bengal

2.3

2.7

1.8

2.0

All India

1.3

2.7

3.1

4.2

Source: Crime in India, 2004

inspectors (51 percent of all inspectors in post). This state is taking many initiatives to improve the status of women in all areas and specifically with respect to crime against women.

Women Police in a Changing Society

54

Role of Women Police Changes in the status of women in policing in the 1980s are related to changes that began in the two previous decades relative to society’s laws, norms, and values; the police informal subculture; and departmental policies and practices (Martin, 1990: xvi).

As mentioned above, women were inducted into the police in larger numbers in the 1970s, as a result of the women’s movement and accompanying social changes in Indian society at large. In the 1980s, the numbers of women officers were again stepped up to deal with marked increases in women and juvenile offenders. Even if they were offenders, it was recognized that women ought to be treated in a sensitive and humane manner and female officers were considered to be more appropriate for searching and interrogating women offenders. The wide social, cultural, and economic changes that have occurred in India in the past three decades created opportunities for both men and women to seek a better life. While these opportunities helped women in many ways, they also led to some problems, for example, more women became vulnerable to victimization both at home and outside. Thus, in the 1980s and 1990s, many more dowry deaths were reported than in previous decades, an increase that has been attributed to the fact that many more households could afford to acquire stoves (kerosene stoves in villages and gas stoves in towns) that are used in bride burnings. Further, “eve teasing”5 of young women was uncommon in the 1970s, because only few women went to college or to work. In the late 1980s and 1990s, many young women went to college and to work and became visible in public when waiting for buses and trains. Finally, many more men took to alcohol and drugs because these became more readily affordable, which led to an increase in domestic violence. At the same time as their risks of victimization have increased, women have become more confident and assertive and many more now report being victimized to the police. As this reporting increased, awareness grew of the need to introduce preventive measures, including enacting and amending laws that relate to violence against women. This new social legislation included the Children’s Act, Suppression 5 Eve teasing is a form of sexual harassment of women by men that happens in many public places such as beaches, roads, cinema halls, buses, trains, temples, markets, and educational institutions. This is more common in urban Indian cites. The resultant act of eveteasing includes verbal assaults such as making passes or unwelcome sexual jokes; non-verbal assaults such as winking, whistling, and staring; showing of indecent gestures and postures; outraging modesty; and physical assaults such as pinching, fondling, and rubbing against women in public places, Ramasubramainan and Oliver, 2003). In 1998, the death of a female student named Sarika Shah in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, caused by eve teasing, brought some tough laws to counter this menace in South India. For example, the Tamil Nadu state government decided to make all eve-teasing offenses non-bailable spurred by an acid attack on two girls by eve teasers and the suicide of a school student in a southern district of Tamil Nadu (Venkataraman, 2004).

Women Police in India

Table 3.6 Nagaland Assam Tripura Haryana Manipur Pondicherry Goa Uttaranchal Chhattisgarh Kerala

55

Number of women police stations in Indian States 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 3 3

Gujarat Punjab Orissa Madhya Pradesh Uttar Pradesh Rajasthan Karnataka Andhra Pradesh Tamil Nadu All India

4 4 6 9 11 12 13 24 195 293

Source: Crime in India 2004

of Immoral Traffic Act, Beggars Act, Young Persons Act, Probation of Offenders Act, Commission of Sati Act, Dowry Prohibition Act, Child Marriage Restraint Act, and Indecent Representation of Women Act. These laws created a need for more female police officers to assist and protect the underprivileged and weaker segments of the country’s populace. Under pressure to deal with so-called dowry murders, India has created a comprehensive law called “The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.” Prior to this act, Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code could be used to file a complaint against an abusive spouse, but this could not give protection to the woman or safeguard her rights. Further, the Act also has made police officers accountable under this law if a woman comes to the police station with a complaint about domestic violence. More importantly, it marks a departure from penal provisions, which hinged on stringent punishments, towards positive civil rights of protection and injunction. Not only were more women officers employed, but many more special family courts were introduced and more women judges were appointed. Many state police also created women’s cells and all women police stations, in response to recommendations made by the National Police Commission (1977). In fact, Kerala, one of the southern states, had introduced the first all women police station in 1973. Somewhat later, other states such as Andra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu followed Kerala’s lead (Aleem, 1989). Of the 35 states and Union territories in India, 19 have now introduced women police stations (See Table 3.6). Two thirds of these stations (230) are situated in the southern states of Orissa, Kerala, Pondicherry, Goa, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. Judging from Internet sources, many more states are in the process of introducing all women police stations to deal with crimes against women cases. Despite all these indicators of progress, there are still no clear-cut policies relating to the appropriate roles of women in the Indian police force and there is the danger they will continue to be used mainly in what Shane (1980) calls social support roles or, in Singh’s words (1989, p. 395), only to “control social evils” such as related to the dowry practice. In the 1970s, it is acknowledged that women police officers

Women Police in a Changing Society

56

Table 3.7

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

Jobs assigned to women officers in India in the 1970s

Searching and frisking at airports Patrolling at railway stations Missing Persons Squad Assisting in eviction and demolition operations Search and interrogation of female suspects at police stations Arrangements at religious and national functions, demonstrations, public disturbances, strikes, processions, and so on. Suppression of immoral traffic in girls and women Security and Welfare duty Assisting the anti-smuggling staff in raids and house searches Special Central Investigation Department Wireless control room duty Escorting juvenile offenders to trial and servicing mobile courts Hospital duty when a female offender is ill Reserve staff

Source: Adapted from Bhardwaj (1976)

were mainly assigned to peripheral duties. The list of job assignments in Table 3.7 illustrates their functions. On the face of it, these duties do not seem all that different from the functions of women police documented by Bhardwaj in a recent study: interrogating and escorting of juvenile destitute and delinquents, women offenders, mentally sick and mentally retarded; investigating offenses involving women and children; arranging bandobust duties at festivals, public meetings, processions, agitations etc.; duties at police stations, VIP security; frisking and security duties at airports; anti-eve teasing work and duties at crime women cell; duty at drug addiction centers; juvenile aid centers; traffic education and regulation; prevention of immoral trafficking; conducting rescue operations, raids, escorting duty to protective homes, courts and hospitals; working at anti-beggary squads and demolition squads; work at foreign regional registration offices; missing persons squads and watch duty at railway stations and bus terminals (Bhardwaj 1999, p. 230).

Furthermore, Aleem’s (1991) study of the role of women police in Andra Pradesh concluded that the long list of functions, including traffic duties, which could be entrusted to women police meant very little, because in fact they are given very few functions. She argued that: •

The functions are more ceremonial than real. Generally women police are not given independent investigation of crimes even where sexual abuse, rape,

Women Police in India







57

dowry deaths and so on, are involved. In most of the crimes committed by or against women, women police function only to assist men police wherever needed, but do not act as independent entities. The potentialities of women police are not utilized to the maximum extent possible. In particular, no attempt is made to utilize the services of women police as social workers. Women police can prove to be a powerful instrument for the prevention of social crimes like immoral traffic, but the police departments lack an imaginative policy to utilize them accordingly.

This assessment is given some support in Bhardwaj’s (1999) study, which reported that some of the young and well-educated women police had expressed dissatisfaction with their status and role. They blamed resistance from lower ranking male officers rather than the senior hierarchy. However, most of them had confidence in their ability to perform all police tasks. Their main complaint (echoed by women interviewed by Vishnoi, 1999) was that the nature of their duties harmed their social lives, especially their marriage prospects. The picture is therefore a bit mixed and the impact of the increased deployment of women on the police may not yet have been fully realized. One concrete and important indication of the changes that can be expected in the way that women officers are viewed is India’s recent decision to send 125 female police officers, one complete specialized unit, to assist United Nations peacekeeping operations in Liberia: This unprecedented move sends a message not only to other post-conflict countries about the importance of having women officers, but also to police contributing nations. These 125 officers are currently undergoing the final stages of their training in India, will make up a specialized unit, known as a Formed Police Unit (FPU). The UN has had increasing success with such units over the past few years as a means of bridging the gap between regular and lightly-armed police and fully-armed blue helmets. (UN News Service, September 5, 2006)

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Chapter 4

Women Police in Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu Tamil Nadu, the main focus of this book, is located on the southeastern coast of India with a land area about half the size of the United Kingdom. In 2001, the state’s population was 62.1 million people, approximately 56 percent of whom lived in rural areas. Under half (44.8 percent) of the population was employed, of which women represented 34.7 percent. Nearly three-quarters of the population was literate (males 82.3 percent and females 64.6 percent). Like other southern Indian states, Tamil Nadu was largely unaffected by foreign invasions. It is a center of Tamil culture, which is one of the ancient Dravidian cultures. As a result, Tamil Nadu and the other southern states are socially and culturally different from those in the north. Tamil Nadu is often considered to be conservative or traditional, but the state shows the political, social, religious, and economic diversity of the nation as a whole (Hartjen and Priyadarsini, 1984).

Map 4.1

Map of India showing position of Tamil Nadu

60

Women Police in a Changing Society

The Tamil Nadu Police The Tamil Nadu police force was established about 140 years ago and is the fifth largest state police force in India. The chief minister of Tamil Nadu has administrative control over the police, which is supervised by the Home Department. The DirectorGeneral of Police is the top appointed official, who is assisted by several InspectorsGeneral and Superintendents of Police in charge of law and order, intelligence, the criminal investigation department (CID), and the armed police (See Diagram 4.1).

Diagram 4.1 Tamil Nadu police—organizational chart The state is divided into four police zones (North, Central, West, and South), each headed by an Inspector-General of Police. There are three categories of police station in Tamil Nadu: Metropolitan City; District Headquarters (including municipal town headquarters and circle headquarters); and rural police stations. Recruitment into any of these police stations is at three levels: police constable (including constable and head constable), Inspector (including sub-inspectors and inspectors) and deputy or assistant superintendent (DSP or ADSP). There are six Metropolitan City stations (Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Thiruchirapalli, Salem, and Thirunelveli), each of which is headed by a Commissioner

Women Police in Tamil Nadu

61

of Police. A Superintendent of Police (SP) heads each of the 30 police districts.1 Deputy Inspectors-General (DIGs) supervise the work of two to three districts, which constitute a Police Range. There are several special units, which perform specific functions such as security, intelligence, and criminal investigations.2 There are 1,218 police stations (503 rural and 715 urban), 117 police outposts and 195 All women police stations (AWPUs). Tamil Nadu has the highest number of urban police stations and AWPUs in India. In 2004, the actual strength of Tamil Nadu police was 76,357 (Crime in India, 2004), which translates to about 1 officer per 1,000 population. A great majority of the police force (88.6 percent) is comprised of constables (head constables, and constable grades I and II). In 2004, women constituted 10.5 percent of the police force, a higher percentage than in any other state. Particular accomplishments of the force include: the first Women Commando Force in the country; the first integrated modern police control room in the country; and the first established fingerprint lab in the world. Table 4.1

Actual police strength of Tamil Nadu including district armed police in 2004

Rank

Total Strength

Women

Men

1. DG/ADDL.DG/IG/DIG

72 (0.1 percent)

5

67

2. SP/Additional S. Dy. SP

687 (0.9 percent)

50

637

3. Inspector, SI, and ASI

7935 (10.4 percent)

860

7075

4. Constables

67663 (88.6 percent)

7136

60527

5. Total

76357 (100 percent)

8051 (10.5 percent)

68306 (89.5 percent)

Source: Crime in India, 2004 1 The 30 districts are as follows: Chennai, Coimbatore, Cuddalore, Dharmapuri, Dindigul, Erode, Kancheeputam, Kanniakumari, Karur, Krishnagiri, Madurai, Nagapattinam, Namakkal, Perambalur, Pudukottai, Ramanathapuram, Salem, Sivagangai Thanjavur, The Nilgris, Theni, Thoothukudi, Thiruchirappalli, Thirunelveli, Thiruvallur, Thiruvannamalai, Thiruvarur, Vellore, Villuppuram, Virudhunagar. 2 These are: armed police or Tamil Nadu Special Police; Civil Defence and Home Guard; Civil Supplies, CID; Coastal Security Group; Crime Branch, CID; Economic Offences Wing; Operations—T.N. Commando Force and Commando School; Prohibition Enforcement Wing; Railways; Social Justice and Human Rights; Special Branch, CID including Security; Technical Services.

Women Police in a Changing Society

62

Recruitment and Training of Police Officers in Tamil Nadu The senior officers in categories 1 and 2 of Table 4.1 are recruited at the national level through a central exam which is known as Union Public Service Commission. These officers undergo training at the National Police Academy, Hyderabad, and are then posted to respective states in the rank of Superintendent of Police. These officers are distinguished by their “I.P.S.” or “Indian Police Service” titles. According to length of service, they subsequently obtain promotions to higher ranks, such as DIG, IG, ADGP and DGP. The remaining officers are selected through a State Service Commission exam, known as the Tamil Nadu Public Service exam. These officers undergo training (following a rigorous physical regime) at the state police training college, located in Chennai, the state capital of Tamil Nadu. Once their training is complete, constables are posted to the armed reserve for at least 6 years before they are allocated to do police stations duties. They will be called to help deal with any disturbance in the state. Inspectors and sub inspectors are posted directly to police stations.

Table 4.2

Strength and agility requirements for men and women police constables Category

Running

100 mtrs

Men (2 marks) 15 secs

Women (2 marks) 16.5 secs

Men Women (5 marks) (5 marks) 13.5 secs. 15.5 secs

200 mtrs

NA

36 sec

NA

33sec

400 mtrs

80 secs

NA

70sec

NA

3.80 mtrs 1.20 mtrs 5.0 mtrs

3.25 mtrs NA NA

4.50 mtrs 1.40 mtrs 6.0 mtrs

3.75 mtrs NA NA

NA

4.5 mtrs

NA

5.5 mtrs

NA

17 mtrs

NA

21 mtrs

Jumping

Long Jump High Jump Rope Climbing Rope Climbing Shotput or Shotput Throw Ball

Throw Ball

Note: The physical requirements for both PCs and sub-inspectors are the same.

Women Police in Tamil Nadu

63

Women Police in Tamil Nadu In the 1990s, Tamil Nadu ranked fourth in the number of women police employed, but it now employs more women officers than any other state. This is the result of the recent national labor law legislation that requires at least 33 percent of new recruits for government jobs to be women. Recruitment of Women Recruitment of women to the Tamil Nadu police force is undertaken in batches every few years, with 2003 being the most recent recruitment year. There are no differences between men and women in age requirements, educational qualifications, written test, and oral exam, but there are some differences in physical standards. The minimum height for women is 157 cms and for men 168 cms. For men, the normal chest minimum is 81 cms with an expansion of 5 cms. There is no such requirement for women. There are also some differences in standards of strength and agility or “physical efficiency” (see Table 4.2). For example, women are tested for running speed over 100 and 200 mtrs, while men are tested over 100 and 400 mtrs. Men have to pass a rope climbing test, whereas women have to pass tests for shotputs or ball throws. Deployment of Women Deployment of women officers in Tamil Nadu is consistent with the picture for India as a whole and elsewhere in the world. In Tamil Nadu, women officers were first recruited in 1973.3 At that time, as in the rest of India, they were hired to deal with women and children, but were slowly assimilated into more general police duties such as assisting senior officers with clerical duties, escorting women offenders to courts and prisons, and traffic operations. They also began to be posted to divisions for detection/investigation, community liaison, crime prevention, communications, administration, “bandobust” operations (that is, order maintenance at parades, marches and so on), and dowry cells and vice squads (Natarajan, 1991). They became increasingly visible to the public because many were placed on traffic duty. Prior to the 1990s, there were very few traffic lights on major streets and roads in Tamil Nadu. Podiums were introduced at many junctions for police to control and direct the traffic, and women constables were often deployed for this

3 Informal discussions between the author and women recruited in the 1970s revealed that these officers were considered for the position on the basis of their weight and height. A majority of them were unmarried at the time of appointment. Many of them said that because of their career, they postponed childbirth until their thirties which led to difficult births and sometimes surgery. In India, especially in rural parts, the marriage age for girls is between 13-20 years. Many of them give birth to babies in their early twenties.

64

Women Police in a Changing Society

purpose. They also drew public attention for their work in so-called juvenile booths at railway stations. These were established to help deal with juvenile runaways, mostly young girls from the country coming to Chennai with dreams of a career in the movies (Chennai is well known for its cinema industry). Many pimps and local organized crime groups wait for such girls to show up and lure them into prostitution locally or traffic them to other states in India. Some of these children are maimed and used for begging, a persistent social problem in Tamil Nadu. Whatever money they make is collected by the organized crime group, which provides the children with some food and shelter and a few cents as pocket money. For some children, the only alternative to this sort of life was starvation. The juvenile booths were set up to protect runaways from such dreadful exploitation. The All Women Police Units Against a background of rising crime against women in the late 1980s, particularly crime associated with the dowry practice (see Annex), the Police Commission undertook a detailed study of the role of women officers. While it stated that policewomen are “an integral part of the force requiring no concessions or special status,” it noted that female victims generally prefer to confide in women officers and are reluctant to go to police stations staffed solely by men. It concluded that there were insufficient female officers to deal with the large increase in crimes against women and it recommended the setting up of a few all-women police stations, as a stop-gap arrangement until the number of police women in the force increased to permit each police station to have its full complement of women. The Commission recommended that the AWPUs in Tamil Nadu should be modeled on the all women police station at Calicut, in Kerala, another southern Indian state. This was the first AWPU in the country, established in the early 1970s. The public generally welcomed the Commission’s report, but the policewomen themselves were not entirely happy with the proposed all women units. As discussed in the Commission’s report, the reasons for their opposition were as follows: (1) there will be a tendency in the department to treat the all-women stations with condescension and accord them second class status (2) such segregated police stations run the risk of isolation and lack of co-operation from other sections of the police (3) the jurisdictional police stations will wash their hands of all crimes involving women and generally minimize the gravity of offenses (Tamil Nadu Police Commission Report, 1990).

Despite this opposition, the first AWPU was opened in the Thousand Lights area in central Madras on April 13, 1992. This unit was considered a success in handling crimes against women and the government sanctioned the opening of all-women units throughout Tamil Nadu. These were developed rapidly and currently there are 195 in total (see Table 4.3). The units are spread out to cover both rural and urban areas, so that many women petitioners could access them. This also means that a majority of

Women Police in Tamil Nadu

Table 4.3

Distribution of all women police stations in Tamil Nadu

Zone

Range

North Chennai

Chengalpet

Central Trichy

South Madurai

Greater Chennai

65

Cities/Districts

Chengai East Kancheeputam Thiruvallur Vellore Vellore Thiruvannamalai Villupuram Villupuram Cuddalore Trichy Trichy City Trichy Perambalur Karur Pudukottai Thanjavur Thanjavur Nagapattinam Thiruvarur Coimbatore Coimbatore Erode The Nilgris Coimbatore City Salem Salem City Salem Namakkal Dharmapuri Krishnagiri Madurai Madurai City Madurai Virudhunagar Dindigul Dindigul Theni Ramnad Ramanathapuram Sivagangai Thirunelveli Thirunelveli Thoothukudi Kanniakumari Thirunelveli City Greater Chennai

7 5 4 7 6 6 6 4 4 3 2 5 6 4 4 7 6 5 3 3 5 4 3 4 3 5 6 6 4 6 5 7 7 4 2 28

41 34 28 51 35 44 44 12 25 24 15 34 40 26 26 47 44 25 12 11 32 25 22 28 16 40 46 35 29 39 34 58 46 31 7 80

1 4 2 4 2 3 1 3 6 0 0 3 0 2 4 6 1 3 0 0 0 0 2 1 1 4 2 0 4 3 5 7 3 4 1 9

All Women Police Stations 7 5 4 7 6 6 6 4 4 3 2 5 6 4 4 7 6 5 3 3 5 4 3 4 3 5 6 6 4 6 5 7 7 4 2 20

Railway

2 3

15 16

15 11

0 0

R.P. Trichy R.P. Chennai

Sub Police Out Divisions Stations Posts

Source: Tamil Nadu Government Policy Note (2004)

Women Police in a Changing Society

66

MARITAL PROBLEMS • Maladjustment between husband, in-laws and the wife • Physical and mental harassment by husband and in-laws unrelated to dowry • Dowry harassment • Extra-marital relations ◦ Bigamy ◦ Concubine • Temporary separation ◦ Abduction of children • Desertion by husband • Maintenance • Return of sridhan or dowry Figure 4.1

PRE-MARITAL PROBLEMS • False promise of marriage ◦ With sexual intimacy ◦ Without any illicit intimacy • Breach of engagement MISCELLANEOUS • Petty quarrels • Cheating • Civil dispute

Nature of cases dealt with by the AWPUs

Source: Natarajan, 1996b.

women police personnel in the state were allocated to serve in these units. All units are located either in the same premises or close to a general police station. Scope of Duties The introduction of the AWPUs changed the career structure for women officers in the police force. These units deal with crimes against women—particularly violence related to problems over dowries—and also with premarital problems such as false promises in marriage. For example, a teenage girl promised in marriage to a teenage boy may be made pregnant by him and abandoned. The girl can report this to the police, who will discuss the matter with both sets of parents to make arrangements for the marriage, or for monetary settlements to help the girl with raising the child. Many teenage girls and their families seek police help in this regard. The AWPUs deal with Indian Penal Code and Indian Criminal Procedural Code cases involving crimes against women. These are categorized in Figure 4.1. Each AWPU is headed by an inspector who reports to the commissioner or assistant commissioner of the police. In most units, there are two sub-inspectors under the inspector, three head constables and 12 constables. They come for roll call around 7.30 am and collect their daily assignments before leaving the station. On any given day, only one or two constables are available for station duties. Their role is to receive petitions and listen to complainants. Once a complaint has been filed (which may take a full day of discussion with the complainant) the first objective

Women Police in Tamil Nadu

67

of the investigation is usually to achieve reconciliation between the parties without going to court. The accused party will be summoned to the station and, if he fails to appear within a reasonable time, he will be subject to arrest. After the preliminary inquiry, the police inspector in charge may refer the case to a counseling service. For example, at the Thousand Lights unit in Madras, a counseling service comprised of four trained psychologists and social workers is located in the same premises as the station building. The counselors arrange meetings with the parties involved in the case and may visit them in their homes. Several counseling sessions may take place before agreement is reached. When the chances of reconciliation are bleak, the officer in charge will take action in the court against the offending party with the approval of the inspector. Where a threat exists to a victim, she will be escorted to and from court proceedings by a women constable and in some cases will be given more extensive protection (Natarajan, 2001). Apart from dealing with these cases, officers in these units undertake a number of other duties. They are routinely assigned to escort women ministers. During state emergency situations, the women officers may also be assigned to maintaining order (bandobust operations) in crowds, demonstrations, and processions. The following is the official list of other duties undertaken by the women officers of the AWPUs: • • • • •

• • • • • • • • • •

Escort of women prisoners from jail to the court and back (here the whole day is lost for the escort personnel) Temple bandobust duties Eve teasing bandobust (morning and evening) in school and college areas and bus stands/stops VIP security duties Other maintenance of law and order (for example, during the recent monthlong government employees’ strike, the entire women police strength was on law and order duty, all over the state) Escorting petitioners, counter petitioners, witnesses, to and from various places, which is a very time-consuming process Mobile counseling duties/child line/women help line duties (a new set of duties) Attending public meetings On duty at religious/political processions Watch and ward duty Court duty; night duty; tapal duty Other duties in AC’s/DC’s office Training Public awareness campaigns A plethora of events that suddenly crop up (such as a recent Indian Air Force show in the Marina, which attracted more than 100,000 spectators).

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Women Police in a Changing Society

The AWPUs have become well known locally and increasing numbers of women now feel confident in approaching the units for help with their problems. Judged by station logs, which show a large increase in the numbers of petitions filed, these units have now become very busy. The Women’s Battalion and All Women Commandos The position of women police has recently changed again in Tamil Nadu as a result of new equal opportunity legislation, which requires that 33 percent of new recruits to the police be women. Male officers threatened strike action unless the women recruited under this legislation were assigned to the same work and conditions as male officers, widely perceived as being more onerous than in the AWPUs. This has resulted in court rulings requiring that both male and female recruits undergo six years’ training in the armed reserve (“battalions”) before they are posted to station duties. Previously, this requirement applied only to male recruits, while women recruits undertook a six-month period of training at the police training college in Chennai, before being allocated to the general police stations. Women police constables recruited after 1997 are therefore now placed in battalions (see Chapter 7 for more details). As a result of problems faced by women in the battalions, the government has recently created the “all women battalion,” perhaps the first of its kind in the world. It has also introduced “women commandos” who are deployed to perform combat roles. One hundred and fifty-one women from the women’s battalion were selected for this special function and were given a three-month training course. This training included unarmed combat, weapons handling and shooting, bomb detection and disposal, VIP security, ambush and counter-ambush, driving, swimming, rowing, rock-climbing, rappelling, horse-riding and so on. In summary, two major changes occurred in 1997 which had a major impact on women policing in Tamil Nadu: (1) far larger numbers of women were recruited to the force than on past occasions due to the new labor laws and, (2) these new recruits were not placed in the AWPUs because male officers demanded that they be treated the same as men. This means that women police in Tamil Nadu fall into two distinct cohorts: (1) those recruited prior to 1997 who are deployed in AWPUs, general police stations and offices, and (2) those recruited in 1997 who, as a result of equal opportunity legislation, have been placed in regular police battalions, all women battalions and women commandos. The implications of these changes will be discussed in Chapter 8. Annex: The Dowry System The dowry system is deeply rooted in Indian culture and is the customary practice of giving gifts in cash and kind by the bride’s family to that of the groom. These gifts

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may be given before the marriage or at any time afterwards and include such things as appliances and furniture as well as cash and jewelry. The cost of the wedding, which can be very elaborate and expensive, is included in the dowry. The amount of the dowry is set by the man’s family based upon his position and income; the highest market value being for government officials (especially those in foreign and administrative service), physicians, lawyers, and those with highly paid overseas jobs. Nonetheless, the dowry system has penetrated into all socio economic strata. In many parts of Tamil Nadu, even the wood cutter has a dowry rate (Natarajan, 1995). The practice of dowry has its roots in the most common rite associated with a Hindu marriage (the majority of Indians are Hindus), “Kanyadan,” the act of giving the bride to the groom. (The word literally means the act of giving or donating a virgin to the groom on an auspicious day.) It is recommended in the shastras (certain scriptures prescribed in the Hindu philosophy) that the bride be adorned with jewelry and then given away. According to the shastras, the ritual gift remains incomplete until the groom and his parents are given “dakshana,” a token gift in their honor. This is supposed to be in recognition of the fact that the bridegroom and his kin deserve to be honored for accepting the girl into their fold. Despite its religious origins, the dowry settlement has all the characteristics of a market transaction. Some scholars suggest that the practice of giving dowry follows from a system of inheritance that excludes the female children, and to some extent compensates for the discriminatory effects of the system. The dowry practice should therefore be considered in the context of property rights under a system of exclusively male inheritance (Harrel and Dickey, 1985; Paul, 1986; Upadhya, 1990). Indeed, D’Souza and Natarajan (1986) have argued that the spread of the dowry practice from upper class Hindus to the middle and lower classes, as well as to other religious groups, is evidence of its real purpose in compensating for women’s low economic value (Natarajan, 1995). The nature and amount of the dowry is carefully negotiated between the bride’s family and that of the groom. Quite often the bridegroom and his family become dissatisfied with the dowry or the arrangements made for its payment and they may humiliate, harass, and physically abuse the bride (Natarajan 1995). Family disputes leading to violence in India are often over dowries. In 1998 and 1999, over 12,612 dowry deaths were recorded across India. There were probably many more thousands of dowry deaths of women that were not reported. While committed in a variety of ways, these murders are generally known as “bride burning” (Kumari, 1993; Sharma, 1993; Natarajan, 1995; Fernandez, 1997; Rao, 1997; Oldenburg, 1993; Stone and James, 1997; Bloch and Rao, 2000; Vindhya, 2000; Bhattacharya, 2004; Roy, 1999). Indian society defines the gender role expectations of men and women, which are reinforced by religious practices and caste systems. As Gelles and Straus (1979) point out, social learning provides the mechanism by which structural conditions are transformed into individual behavior and crystallized into cultural norms and values. Women’s tolerance of abuse and their reluctance to report it are consequences of

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Women Police in a Changing Society

the socialization process. They are taught to believe that family matters should be kept within the home and that they must always respect their husbands, regardless of the treatment they receive, since husbands will always do what is best for the family. By the same token, men are socialized to be authority figures at home, who must sometimes punish their wives. Arranged marriages are still very common in Indian society. In the early stages of marriage, a new bride who is mistreated by her husband’s family cannot readily seek help from her own parents because they will already have counseled her that she must try to adjust to her new situation. Another reason a wife might not complain to her parents is that she has sisters at home waiting for marriage and her parents may have gone into debt in order to provide her dowry. She may feel that she cannot add to her parents’ problems by complaining and must endure her mistreatment. If she does complain, her parents will generally be reluctant to intercede on her behalf with the in-laws or husband. This reflects the cultural norm that once a girl is married, her parents have only limited say in her new family’s personal affairs. If a girl returns to her parents’ house because of disputes with her husband, it brings shame on her parents’ family and prevents the marriage of any of her siblings. Moreover, she cannot take part in any religious ceremonies without her spouse. Many times, dowry victims have no way to seek help even when they are repeatedly victimized. The extent of the suffering from this repeated victimization is unmeasured, but it is a very serious problem in the Indian subcontinent. The women’s movement, and access to education and jobs for many women in Tamil Nadu prompted action to deal with dowry violence. For example, in the early 1980s, the Joint Action Council for Women (JACW), a non-profit organization formed by professional women in Madras (now Chennai) introduced the first help center for women known as Sahodari (that is, “sister”). The author was employed as the social worker in charge of the Sahodari. Within a year, another two centers were opened to cater to the needs of women in north and south Madras, and now many help centers operate throughout the state. The help centers are managed by a variety of non-profit women’s organizations supported by public and private funds, and they assist victims through mediation services, vocational training, and affirmative education. Women from all walks of life seek help from these centers, which have struggled hard to raise awareness of the seriousness of dowry problems throughout the country. Due to resource constraints, these centers are able to provide only limited help and they cannot take legal action to restrain violent offenders. However, they have helped to create broader awareness about the victimization of women and fuelled the demand for government action—action that led to the establishment of the AWPUs.

PART III STUDIES OF WOMEN POLICE IN TAMIL NADU

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Chapter 5

Tamil Nadu Women Police in the 1980s Perlstein (1971) has argued that only research can provide the necessary information regarding what role women should play in law enforcement and, if this research is not conducted, law enforcement will suffer from the misuse of personnel at a time when it can be least afforded. The empirical research reported in this chapter, which was undertaken in 1988, used a self-completion survey to discover what women officers in the Tamil Nadu police felt about their work in terms of their career commitment, interests, and own capabilities when compared to male officers. They were also asked about their preferred role and preferred style of police department. Their responses were compared with those of a sample of women officers in New Jersey. This was intended to facilitate interpretation of the Indian data since the United States serves as a benchmark for countries, such as India, which have not reached the same level of emancipation of women or use of women in the police in terms of their numbers and functions (Aleem, 1989). The Survey of Women Officers in Tamil Nadu This study was greatly assisted by the late Dr P.D. Senapathy, Professor and Reader in the Department of Psychology, University of Madras. He obtained permission to conduct the research in Tamil Nadu, he arranged for the translation of the questionnaire into Tamil, and he supervised the administration of the questionnaire. The Sample According to information provided by the Tamil Nadu Director-General of Police, there were 857 women officers (constables and inspectors—ranks equivalent to patrol officers and sergeants) engaged on routine policing duties in Tamil Nadu in 1988. Because of the practical difficulties drawing a systematic sample of women officers, the assistance of the state police headquarters had to be obtained in distributing the questionnaires. These were distributed to 300 women officers in the Tamil Nadu police departments that had female police, and to the female police officers who attended training sessions at the police headquarters through their departments. The data collected from the female officers at the training program were from officers in the Madras City police departments, which in 1988 employed half the female officers in the state of Tamil Nadu.

Women Police in a Changing Society

74

In total, 183 women officers returned completed questionnaires, for a response rate of 60 percent. Those who responded had a mean age of 30.3 years. Most (68 percent) had a high school education, 29.5 percent had a bachelor’s degree, and 2.2 percent had a master’s degree. More than half (59.6 percent) were married, 38.8 percent were single, and only 1.6 percent were divorced. Their mean length of service was 8.3 years. One quarter were in supervisory positions and the rest were constables. The Questionnaire The questionnaire used in this study was originally developed by Sandra Jones (1986) for her research in England. It covers a wide range of information including: (1) background characteristics (age, education, marital status, and length of service); (2) deployment experience; (3) career commitment; (4) perceived capability compared with male officers; (5) perceived interests in various police tasks; (6) perceived and preferred role; and (7) perceived and preferred style of police department. Preferred roles for women officers are divided into three categories: •

• •

Traditional—in which women do not do the same work as men, but specialize in duties such as those involving female offenders and victims, juveniles, and missing persons; Modified—in which women may take on similar duties, except those where violence is anticipated; Integrated—in which women take on the same duties as men.

The preferred style of police department is also divided into three categories: •

• •

Separate—separate policewomen’s departments, with a career structure for women; officers that specialize in female offenders and victims, juveniles and missing children; Confined—departments staffed by both male and female police officers that specialize in female offenders and victims, juveniles and missing children; Integrated—fully integrated departments for all police officers such that men and women perform the same duties.

Findings Perceived Career Commitment Forty-three percent of Tamil Nadu women officers view the police service as a job, while 57 percent view it as a career. Two thirds of them have no intention of leaving the job. These results suggest that the majority of women officers have a professional commitment to their work.

Tamil Nadu Women Police in the 1980s

75

Perceived Capability Compared with Male Officers Table 5.1 shows that half the women officers believed that women are less competent than men in a range of police duties: general purpose motor patrol duties, surveillance, foot patrol, dealing with traffic offenses and accidents, dealing with crowds of males on the street, dealing with situations where someone has a lethal weapon, and interviewing male suspects. The majority see themselves as more competent than men on only the following tasks: clerical work, writing reports, interviewing female suspects, dealing with domestic disputes, and dealing with juvenile offenders. The majority also see themselves as at least equal to men in getting information at the scene of a crime and in community liaison work. It can be inferred from this pattern of results that these women officers have little confidence in their ability to perform many patrol and line duties and that they see their expertise as confined to the roles traditionally assigned to women. Table 5.1

Capability of women police officers (n=183) compared with male officers, Tamil Nadu, 1988 (responses in percent)

Police Tasks 1. General purpose motor patrol

Better

Same

Worse

3

15

82

2. Someone with deadly weapon

3

22

75

3. Dealing with 4–6 males on street

11

19

70

4. Interviewing male suspects

6

31

63

5. Traffic offenses

15

22

63

6. Traffic accidents

14

20

66

7. Surveillance

13

34

53

8. Foot patrol

16

33

51

9. Getting info at crime scene

17

47

36

10. Child abuse cases

34

35

31

11. Community liaison

33

42

25

12. Domestic disputes

45

43

12

13. Juvenile offenders

50

30

20

14. Writing reports

63

24

13

15. Questioning victims of rape

70

21

9

16. Interviewing female suspects

74

18

8

17. Clerical work

70

26

4

Women Police in a Changing Society

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Perceived Interest in Police Tasks A five-point scale was used to measure career interests on 17 different police tasks (see Table 5.2). The data show that women officers are most interested in giving advice and information to members of the public, working with juveniles, dealing with general disputes, intervening in family crises, preparing crime reports, and police station duties. Overall, these officers find service duties of greater interest, though the majority also report being “interested” or “very interested” in most of the law enforcement duties. Deployment Experience Most of the women police officers have a limited range of experience. More than three quarters report having been employed in only one division, usually either the traffic or general patrol division (Table 5.3). Only a minority of women had experience of most of the listed duties, which is all the more surprising given the average length of service of nearly 8.5 years. Table 5.2

Women officers’ (n=183) interest in specific police activities, Tamil Nadu, 1988

Police Activities

Percent Interested or Very Interested

Law enforcement duties 1. Traffic patrol

48.1

2. Surveillance

49.3

3. Traffic management

50.0

4. Dealing with motoring offenses

51.6

5. Dealing with traffic accidents

55.7

6. General purpose motor patrol

57.7

7. Making arrests

58.1

8. Foot patrol

62.4

9. Community liaison

63.3

10. Collecting evidence

66.0

11. Interviewing suspects

66.3

Service duties 12. Giving advice/info to public

67.0

13. Working with juveniles

67.0

14. Dealing with general disputes

67.1

15. Intervening in family crises

69.5

16. Preparing crime reports

77.5

17. Police station duties

77.8

Tamil Nadu Women Police in the 1980s

Table 5.3

77

Deployment experience of 183 women police officers in Tamil Nadu (1988)

Department

Percentage

General police stations

53.6

Traffic

53.6

Juvenile division

19.7

Crime prevention

14.8

Detective/Investigation

18.6

Admin/Clerical/Training/Personnel

28.4

Community liaison

18.0

Specialist Squads (includes dowry cell)

8.4

Preferred Role and Style of Police Department The women were asked to state which roles and styles of police departments they most preferred: integrated, modified, or traditional. As Figure 5.1 shows 30 percent (55 cases) favored an integrated role, 24.2 percent a modified role, and 45.6 percent a traditional role. Figure 5.1 also shows the preferred styles of police departments. Slightly more than one-third of the officers (35.5 percent) favored the establishment of separate policewomen departments, with a separate career structure, that would specialize in female offenders and victims, juveniles, children, and missing persons. Just over 38 percent favored the establishment of a department staffed by both male and female police officers, which would also specialize in female offenders and victims, juveniles and children, and missing persons. Twenty-six percent favored a fully integrated department for all police officers in which men and women perform the same duties. The results indicate that slightly more than half of the women officers preferred either an integrated or modified role within the police department. A comparison of these officers with those preferring a traditional role found no statistical differences on background characteristics such as age, rank, length of service, marital status, or education. However, there was a slight difference in their deployment experience: Women preferring non-traditional roles tended to have wider deployment experience, mostly in primary line functions (general uniform patrol, detective, and crime prevention). Further, more women preferring non traditional roles had undergone special training than those preferring a traditional role (chi square 3.5, df 1, p