What is the rationale for gender sensitization training for police ?

In order to make police officers behave and act in a gender sensitive manner in cases of violence against women and in the discharge of their duties in general, there is an urgent need to conduct gender sensitization training courses for police. At present, the concept of gender is grossly misunderstood by a large majority of police officers. There is also a lack of proper awareness of the prevailing gender inequalities among police officers.

Even if there is awareness, the cult of masculinity prevailing in the police organizations does not easily permit a change in the attitude and behaviour of male police personnel toward women. The stereotypes held by the police about sexual violence/harassment and domestic violence ( blaming the victim etc) indicate the general attitude of police towards women. The following findings of a research study about the opinion of male police personnel regarding the role of women colleagues also reflect the attitude of a majority of police officers towards women and the lack of awareness about the concept of gender:-

1. There is no need to integrate women into the mainstream of police.
2. Women police personnel should be given specific tasks related to women and children.
3. Women are not enthusiastic about their jobs.
4. Women may work as cooks in the police mess.
5. Women should escort only female prisoners and not male prisoners.
6. Women should not be engaged in operations against militants, extremists and insurgents.
7. Women police officers are very gentle and are not capable of handling hardened criminals.

In order to remove the prejudices and biases of police officers towards women in general and women victims as well as women colleagues in particular and to develop in them the required professionalism (in terms of knowledge, skills and attitudes) for dealing with cases of violence against women more effectively, it is imperative that all State police organizations undertake suitable initiatives, including organizing of training programmes to sensitize the police personnel at all levels. Such biases have serious consequences for morale of women, justive meted out to them, entry of women into police force etc.

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