Thursday, March 27, 2014

HC notice to govt over 'gender bias' in State Reserve Police Force

Gujarat high court on Thursday sought explanation from the state government, the DGP and the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) over a petition filed by a woman constable alleging gender discrimination in the SRPF.

A woman constable from Rajkot, Tejiben Zapda, has questioned various circulars and departmental orders issued in the SRPF since 2011 forbidding female employees from doing any office work. These circulars hold that women are to be assigned field duty only.

In her petition filed through advocate Vijay Nangesh, Zapda has claimed that denying women a posting in headquarters and offices is in violation of their right to equality in the force. Seeking quashing of these circulars and orders, she has argued that the orders "show grave prejudice against women at large and also reflect utter insensitivity towards the needs of little children and babies of these women constables, [and] towards their physical and mental well-being".

She has alleged that these orders are passed to "purposely harass and punish women by keeping them away from the head office and official work, keeping them away in distant places and assigning them the toughest tasks so as to break their morale and keep them under constant stress for reasons known to authorities only".

Claiming that the policy is against the recommendations of all the 6 National Conferences of Women in Policing, the petitioner has stated that the authorities try to discourage entry of women in the police force and thus severely hamper their empowerment. Zapda has also submitted that young mothers face various problems and their babies are left without proper care. The petition further states that women constable use pills to stop lactation artificially. This causes many side-effects such as vomiting, problems of digestion and feeling of nervousness in these young mothers and also increases the risk of breast cancer in the long run, the petition states. Many of the women constables are facing various other illnesses and going through severe depression.

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