by Sutapa Sanyal
I wanted to share a practical model I’ve developed for Gender-sensitive Community Policing. This isn’t just based on theory; it’s something I have had the chance to implement on the ground for over 140 million women and children in India’s most populous state.
It was built after listening to the needs of lakhs of women, and even today, our model is responsive towards the constantly changing ground realities.
Here’s the backstory: In September 2014, I was asked to start a special department within the Police in UP that would protect and empower all the women and children across the state.
Anyone who is familiar with governance in UP knows that this is a mammoth task. UP is home to over 140 million women and children (every 36th woman in the world lives in UP), many of whom face violence. UP Police is the world’s second largest force, but still the police to citizen ratio is 1:1000.
In this milieu, I established the UP Police Mahila Samman Prakoshth, which is the state’s nodal police agency for all issues related to women and children.
Our domain of work is extremely large: from responding to domestic violence cases, to tracking missing children, from increasing women’s access to the criminal justice system to keeping children safe from online abuse.
Over the next few days I will share stories of our work and our impact . Today, I want to start with the introducing the GENDER SENSITIVE COMMUNITY POLICING model that I have designed at MSP:
The U.P. Police Mahila Samman Prakoshth (MSP), is the first ever full-fledged initiative of the UP Police dedicated exclusively to look into the policing aspects related to the security and dignity of over 140 million women and children of the State.
MSP has optimally leveraged ICT and human resources through the “3 P model” to evolve a holistic framework of “Gender-sensitive Community Policing” for ending gender-based discrimination in its various formats.
The work of MSP is directed towards generating awareness, creating a synergy and capacity-building for women empowerment, and is also interspersed with direct and indirect action with the help of local police and civil society members.
MSP has designed and implemented a bouquet of nine discrete and yet inter-connected verticals based on the elements of SMART Policing.
9 MSP programmes to provide qualitative policing on gender-related issues:
Programme which enhances women’s access to the Criminal Justice System
- VIKALP – A web portal dedicated exclusively to registering and processing complaints regarding crimes against women, which uses innovative digital technology to ensure over 95% police compliance, accountability and transparency.
Programme for Gender Sensitization & Capacity – building of Police
- NAVCHETNA – Gender-sensitization training of Police. Also conducts legal literacy and soft skill enhancing workshops for police personnelCommunity based Policing programme
Community based Policing and Outreach programmes
- RU-BA-RU – A “student-cop-connect” program which establishes direct interaction between police and students for gender equality
- SAATHI – Involves citizens directly in Community Policing by creating a corps of “citizen cadets”
- AKSHAYA – Facilitates self-defence programme for girls
- ADHIKAAR – Promotes legal literacy and knowledge-sharing
- SAARTHI – Makes public transport safe for women
- JAGRITI – Covers awareness- generation regarding gender issues by public figures
Programme for Thought Leadership
- SHODH EVAM SAMWAAD – Promoting research, dialogue and discussion for building a knowledge economy on Gender- related issues and drawing up policy suggestions from them
With the passage of time, the policing aspects related to children were also entrusted to the MSP and it was also made the nodal agency for the anti-Human Trafficking efforts of the State.
Partnerships and Recognition
With proactive support pouring in from UNICEF, Action Aid, various government departments (specially the MHA, Bureau of Police Research and Development and Home Department) as well as the civil society, the campaigns have gained in strength continually over a period of two years.
The work of MSP has been praised by leading publications like World Business Times, India Today, The Times of India as well as by Members of Parliament (MPs) from India, Canada and UK. Our endeavours have also found favourable mention in the Purdue University publication.
Given our dedication to quality, we have also been awarded an ISO 9001:2008 certification, which vouches for the structural and functional soundness of the organization.
We have received several awards nationally and internationally:
FICCI SMART Policing Award 2017
Awarded One Globe Award for Social Impact (2017)
Manthan Digital Inclusion for Development Award for South Asia by the Digital Empowerment Foundation (2017)
Security Watch India Award for Innovative Use of Technology for Women Safety (2016)
A strong social media presence also ensures that the gap in societal awareness and proactive governance is suitably addressed.
The USP of the Mahila Samman Prakoshth is that despite being a lean organization with very limited resources, it has created and implemented protocols that helps in fostering a robust environment for women empowerment.
It has gained tremendous goodwill in civil society within a very short time and in the process, has suitably addressed the existing trust-deficit between the citizens and police in relation to gender- related crimes.
I hope that you enjoyed reading this brief overview of MSP. If you have questions or ideas for me, please feel free to reach out via messages or email. I’m always open to sharing ideas so that we can all built better systems for a New India.