Sensitisation and training workshop of police personnel

Under the Indian Penal Code as well as other legislations there are many sections and provisions that apply to offences committed against women andthe police is duty bound to take action against the perpetrator. Women's organisations like BMF Thane have to frequently work with police to get offenders booked and secure justice for victimised women.

In principle, an actof criminal offence against a woman is not considered to have been committed against that individual woman alone, but it is supposed to have been committed against the society. It is not a private matter as is generally perceived by people, but a public issue, a social wrong, a crime against society. But due to lack of this perspective people tend to remain mute spectators to the goriest atrocities committed on womenin front of them and not assist the concerned woman. Police is also a victim to this tendency of apathy. As a result, many laws enacted for protecting women from dowry system, domestic violence, atrocities of every kind are not implemented in the right earnest and to the extent possible by our police department.

BMF Thane has been persistently brainstorming and working on this problematic situation. Whenever a case of atrocity is dealt with by the BMF workers, they study the facts as a first step. Once they are convinced thatan offencehas been committed, they enlighten the victim of her right to get the offender booked at concerned police station and get her grievance redressed. If she does not receive proper attention at the police station, BMF workers accompany her and help her make representation to police officers emphasising the need to take prompt action.Except for a few conscientious policemen BMF has almost always experienced resistance from the police to even give an acknowledgement to women's written complaints. Such an apathy and inaction at grass roots level is one of the main reasons why violence against women is not being curbed effectively.

To make at least a dent on this deplorable situation BMF Thane has conducted sensitisation and training workshops for policemen. During the last year 6 workshops were organised for 300 police personnel deployedin Thane District (Rural) Jurisdiction. This year some more are being planned.

During the workshops the theatrical presentation developed by BMF Thane on women's perspective makes the police empathise with victimised women and see women's question rationally without gender bias. Free discussion is welcome amongst the participants to take care of any misconceptions.This is followed by a simple but rigorous presentation by legal expert(s) on women's rights endowed by the Constitution of India and other relevant laws. Participation of police is encouraged in the workshop and the communication is free and easy particularly during the questions and answers sessions.

This activity needs to be extended to all police stations. Moreover, itneeds to be an on-going process to bring about any tangible change in the atmosphere in our police stations.

It is common knowledge that local political influence on police works against justice and invariably plays an adverse role against victimised women. This has to be dealtwith firmly by women's organisation. It is expected that sensitised police personnel and trained women's vigilance committees will help in this regard.