Engage educated women as police volunteers

Engage educated women as ‘Special Mahila Police Volunteers’ in villages to facilitate police outreach on gender crimes like domestic violence, child marriage and sexual harassment, the Centre has told states.

The rationale behind the scheme is to provide victims with an “effective alternative for getting help and support” as it is “common knowledge” that women who faced violence or harassment do not find it easy to approach police for help.

The Ministry of Home Ministry (MHA) has now written to all states to soon implement the scheme proposed by Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) as soon as possible in one or two districts that has high rate of crime against women as well as low child sex ratio.

The broad mandate of these volunteers is to report incidences of violence against women such as domestic violence, child marriage, dowry harassment and violence faced by women in public spaces. “She will act as a role model for the community,” the Ministry of WCD said.

She has to inform police about any “unpleasant behaviour or untoward incidences” against women. She will also have to act as an “additional intelligence collection unit” on spotting of suspicious arrivals in villages, information about missing women or children and deviant behaviour among students.

A woman who is above 21 years and a Class XII pass can apply for this honorary post and a panel headed Superintendent of Police would decide on who will be appointed.

According to the MHA, these volunteers are envisaged as “empowered, responsible, socially aware women for fostering leadership in local settings to facilitate police outreach on gender concerns”.

A volunteer could be “any woman who is socially committed towards empowerment of women and girls, willing to raise her voice against gender based violence and support the police in creating a gender just society free from violence”, the WCD Ministry said.

States have been asked to encourage members of civil society and action groups working at grassroots for combating violence against women to apply for becoming volunteers.

There will be provision for monthly allowance, training, reward and recognition of volunteers. A lump-sum amount of Rs 500 per month will also be paid to cover her “out of pocket expenses” related to mobile phone and local transportation.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on July 1, 2016)

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