As domestic violence cases go up amidst the pandemic, All Women Police stations want a larger workforce.
Bangalore: Dimpul a victim of dowry and harassment has been making rounds of the All Women Police Station (AWPs) seeking justice for the past eight months.“My husband threw me out of the house without any reason. He didn’t want to be with me anymore. I have been suicidal many times. My lawyer asked me to go to a women’s police station. I have come here more than nine times now but there has been no resolution.”
Shivaji Nagar and Banashankari AWPs in Bangalore mainly deal with a dowry, domestic violence, and sexual abuse complaints. Located in the central part of the city, these are mostly inaccessible to women. They have to travel long distances to file a complaint.
Dimpul further adds that “My husband has come to the station only once. No counselling has happened so far. He also happens to be a government employee, we suspect that he must have bribed them.”
Officials in the Banashankari station said they are highly understaffed and overworked. On average they have more than 200 cases a year and it’s difficult to deal with the volume of cases. “We at least need 50 more police personnel. Now we have one sub-inspector who handles all cases. We want at least four more. We also need more than 25 men in an AWP to handle other things in the station,” said H.M Meenakshi, Inspector of AWPs, Banashankari Branch. These two women’s police stations cater to 49 areas each.
Police and activists agreed that women are much more comfortable talking to women police officers rather than their male counterparts. “There should be more of these stations. Meanwhile, there is slow progress towards sensitising male police officers to such cases, but it’s gradually happening,” said Ashitha Sharan, Vice President, All India Women Conference.
A report by National Health and Family Survey shows that cases of violence against women in Karnataka stand at 44.4 percent in 2020. Cases grew by 20 percent in 2020 when compared to 2016. The pandemic has not been a boon to women either. Long hours in the house, work from home, constant fights, and disagreements are some of the major reasons seen for filing complaints at the station. Savita Kanamadi, Sub Inspector at AWPs, Shivaji Nagar said that “more cases started to come in when the unlock phases started. A lot of these women live in joint families. They overworked themselves and went through a lot of abuse.”
After a complaint is registered in the station several ways are adopted to solve these issues. Counselling is the first step. The couple is counselled together as well as separately to find a resolution. However, if the woman disagrees, an FIR is filed and then the case is taken forward from there. It depends on case to case basis. These counselling sessions are conducted by the officers themselves.
Women activists say more power should be given to these stations. They should be publicised so that women feel safer to come report. As Dimpul and many other women wait for justice there is a crucial need to make these police stations more accessible.