She is on duty seven days per week, says Radhika. As police superintendent of a district she is responsible for seven areas and 1.8 million inhabitants. The youngest of three siblings is the only police officer in her family and one of only 6.6 percent of female police officers in the Indian state of Karnataka. Today, the mother of a two years-old daughter is discussing with her 35 colleagues how the disadvantages of women in daily life and legal procedures can be tackled.
She presents the results of her working group in the three-day workshop on women and victims protection in the Police Academy of the Indian state of Karnataka – a partner region of the German state of Bavaria. The Hanns Seidel Foundation supports the local police in their development towards a fully citizen-oriented and gender-sensitive “service provider” for Karnataka’s people. Especially women are still often caught in a rigid understanding of roles and often victims of physical and sexual crimes. Nearly 46 out of 100,000 women face violence in Karnataka, 160 out of 100,000 in New Delhi (NCRB (2017): Crime in India – 2016: 133).
Despite a legal protection being in place, most domestic crimes are still not reported at all, female feticide continues and the degree of sexual crimes is intensifying, while the legal procedure means running the gauntlet for most victims. It is up to the police to implement a reliable legal protection and provide safety for the citizens.
Senior Police Superintendent Bernhard Egger and Chief Superintendent Heike Krämer of the Bavarian State Police were leading the workshop from December 6 to December 8 and helped the 38 Karnataka police officers of all levels to develop their own concept of women and victim protection for their state. The professional knowledge of the German experts is in great demand: How quick can a First Information Report be forwarded to the prosecutor? Can the Bavarian State Police be active on suspicion when children are involved? How are witnesses protected from external interference? Together with their German colleagues, the Indian police officers discussed ideas for an improvement of the situation were collected.
Protection of women and victim is part of the underlying concept of community-based policing as Egger explains: “We are a service provider; and most citizens need our service only once – that´s why every interaction with the citizen requires sensibility.”
Inspector General of Police and Director of the Karnataka Police Academy, Vipul Kumar, is proud of the outcome and the participants in the workshop: “This is your own product”. The concept of protection of women and victims should soon become a fixed part of policing throughout Karnataka. “Bavaria has its own law on protection of women and victims – why not us?”, says Superintendent Savitha Hoogar, director of a police college in Gulbarga.
The workshop lets the cooperation between the two partner states reach a practical level. And various activities are to follow: Karnataka is interested in a nationwide programme and a practical training of its police forces. Hanns Seidel Foundation supports the exchange with the Bavarian State Police; flanked by seminars for community-based organisations, lawyers and state prosecutors all over the state. Expectations and motivation are high among the workshop participants: “It’s easier for Bavaria than for us – we have to work much harder than they do”, says Vipul Kumar. Some steps could already be identified which could be implemented immediately; such as the immediate involvement of a prosecutor. Radhika also got some ideas for her jurisdiction: “victim protection is an urgent necessity. It must be exercised to ensure that women regain confidence in the judicial system.” After this, Radhika has to say goodbye immediately: a case of sexual harassment by an officer was reported in her district.