Gender-sensitivity project for cops brings change in Karnataka

Gangrape protest

At A time when sensitising police to crimes against women is a topic of debate following the Delhi gangrape and death, a unique, nearly 10-year-old UNICEF project in this regard in Karnataka has brought about a semblance of change in the state.

Nearly 25 per cent of the force posted in police stations in Karnataka, especially the younger personnel, have undergone training at police academies or at their posting districts under the 'Gender Sensitisation and People Friendly Police Initiative', and are making a conscious effort to handle issues of women and children, crimes of violence in particular, with sensitivity and responsibility.

A 2011 evaluation by consultancy firm Deloitte of the UNICEF-funded project, adopted in 2002, found a perceptible positive change in police attitude towards cases involving women and children. Set to come under complete control of the state police, the project has also triggered interest in several states, including Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Meghalaya and Rajasthan.

While the Meghalaya state police began replicating the Karnataka project by introducing a gender sensitivity programme at its police academies last year, a delegation from Rajasthan is expected to study the programme later this month.

"In the light of the incidents in Delhi, there is a need for focus on gender sensitivity, people-friendly police initiatives and social laws, which are generally considered to be the soft power of the police. Police from several states are now seeking replication of this project," said DGP, Training, in Karnataka, Sushant Mahapatra, who is currently in charge of the project.

It was in 1987 that UNICEF first proposed the project. While it found few takers across the country, a joint commissioner of police in Bangalore, Ajai Kumar Singh, stepped forward to adopt it for the city. After he became the additional director general for recruitment and training, he took it to the entire state in 2002.

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