Is Sexual harassment reality in Jammu Kashmir Police?

Bharti Jasrotia

Known for its bravery and professionalism Jammu and Kashmir police is in a spot over the allegation of some of its officers being involved in sexual harassment of lower run female employees.

According to the report of common wealth human rights initiatives (CHRI), sexual harassment of women police officers from the rank of constable to inspector in Jammu and Kashmir is a reality. Though the number is just 7.8 percent but, it is a reality that women employees of Jammu and Kashmir police face sexual harassment.

According to this report, a copy of which is with Newspoint Bureau, the female constable and other officers upto the rank of inspector accepted that they were either harassed by their male counterparts or seniors or those with connections in the higher echelons of power.

Among those who acknowledged that sexual harassment at the work place is a reality, they said that the harassment includes male police officers spreading rumors about them and in certain cases some officers in-charge of the police station when they are working also do it.

These female officers further said that even at times they receive obscene, abusive and non-sensical SMSs on their mobiles. In the report they have said that whatsapp and Facebook have become latest source of harassment with even lower run male police officers sending them friend request from fake accounts created by them. Once accepted these friend requests become a source of nuisance for them, the report has quoted the female officers as saying this.

The report further mentions female constable3s and inspectors saying that when they are sent on a posting, they are given a bad name even before they reach the place. ”If I complain I cannot stay in the department for long” the report has quoted a female officer saying this.

When asked about lack of reporting of the sexual harassment cases these female officers told CHRI that complaining to the senior is not effective since that would invite wrath of the officers against whom the complaint is made. ”Complain means adding more pressure on ourselves. In-fact if we complain, we are given more duty as punishment. Harassment happens but girls do not say anything thinking that they would be considered bad” ,the report says.

The whim among the junior rank officers was that the problem was more common at their level than in the senior rank. ”Sexual harassment is less in the top level post. A constable may face it but not at the cadre level” the report says while referring to having talked to a police officer.

While the over-whelming majority of the senior women officers were of the vim that harassment did not occur at their level, senior female officer admitted that harassment at the cadre rank did exist, but women are hesitant to complain against the more powerful senior. The report has further said that sexual harassment is more at the subordinate level.

“It appears that sexual harassment exists more at the subordinate level. If it does exist in the other ranks, most women do not wish to discuss it for fear of being labelled or further victimized,” claims the report. It further stresses that the key to enable women to participate equally in the workforce is to put in place the necessary policies and facilities to ensure that they can work in a dignified manner and balance professional and personal responsibilities.

It maintains that owing to the lack of these facilities women are reluctant to join the police. “The existing working conditions of policewomen are challenging and largely unacceptable. Women police officers identified several recurring infrastructural issues relating to a lack of separate toilets, restrooms and changing facilities for women, which are basic, essential facilities,” the report affirms.

It asserts that other problems concerned the lack of accommodation or barracks for women that are necessary to enable them to take up certain postings. “While there are undoubtedly resource challenges in terms of the costs involved in addressing these gaps, participants shared that these were not the only aspect of the problem. What the government has to do is increase the budget to have more logistic support and facilities. Sometimes the budget comes so late that it is sent back because the financial year has ended,” the report has outlined.

It has gone to the extent of saying that the length of shifts – often a minimum of 12 hours – was singled out on numerous occasions. Apart from the physical impact of long hours of work under the given working conditions, for women with family responsibilities, such long absences from home present particular challenges. ““Long working hours and the difficulty in balancing work and home serve as factors that discourage women from applying for this job,” adds the report.

“There is discrimination when it comes to sending a woman to head a district. In this case there is 100 per cent discrimination…I will never be sent to a district. The seniors do not even ask whether I want to go to a district. There are so many eligible women SPs. Why have we not been posted in a district? Women should be present in all departments,” asserts the report.

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