Police: friends or foes?
After the recent rise in the media coverage of rape cases all over the country, along with the public outrage it caused, the police have had no option but to stand up and take responsibility. But what one needs to notice is the fact that time and again, things have been jolted out of place due to such incidents, and despite the police sitting up and taking notice, the news fizzles out, and so does the sense of responsibility.
If one is to look at the provisions made for women in this country, as well as the laws which exist for the protection of women against domestic abuse, molestation, physical abuse and various other situations, one would assume that women in this country get all the protection they need. But what we fail to notice is the deep sense of patriarchal values that are very deeply embedded in the psyche of so many men in the country, even today. What we fail to notice is that even though these laws exist, the people who carry out these laws are often seeped in a strange sense of misogyny, and they often tend to forget that they are not the ones who should pass the judgement. They are simply the ones who should execute them without trying to bypass them.
In order for a woman to go and put these provisions into action, she must approach the police men at police stations, and this is where things get tricky. A woman cannot always walk up to a policeman and complain about eve-teasing, because before the actual man who has committed the crime is condemned, the woman is made to go through a character assessment test of sorts. Her clothes, her lifestyle, her reasons of being out at that particular time, her marital status and her sexual practices are looked over, and commented upon. If the woman does not flee after such a severe and such an arbitrary judgmental assessment, maybe her complaint will get lodged, and maybe the police will actually take action against the offender.
The idea is that the laws do not need to change as much as the mind-set does. The bigger police stations have a women’s cell where lady-officers are in attendance to make the women feel more at ease. But is the other sex exempt from being chauvinistic? Are they too not patriarchal and judgmental of other women? These are the issues which really need looking into. Often the police themselves end up harassing women just because they can. The solidarity between officers will prevent one from taking down a complaint against another, if at all a woman summons up the courage to do so.
What is really worrisome is that the very protectors and executioners of the law need to be taught the laws themselves. This is what one needs to really worry about, and find ways out of. When the so-called protectors themselves don’t believe in the protection, then the country might as well burst out into anarchy. The mindset of the police needs to change in order for them to not be the enemies, which they are bordering on being, at this point.