This weekend promises to be different for our men — and women — in uniform. Twenty-eight policewomen, from the rank of constable to officer-in-charge, will meet their male colleagues at Lalbazar on Saturday. The interface, the brainchild of Delhi-based Bureau of Police Research and Development, is one of a kind: it will be the first-ever formal “interactive session” for the men and women who have worked shoulder-to-shoulder all these years for a common force.
The programme, being arranged by Calcutta Police in collaboration with the British Council, is designed for professions overwhelmingly dominated by men. The Bureau has zeroed in on Calcutta Police for the inaugural run because no other profession is so highly male-dominated, say senior police officers.
Men will, naturally, outnumber the women in this interactive session, given that Calcutta Police’s male:female ratio is 50:1. But the point of the exercise, say officers, is that the lopsided ratio is slowly but surely altering over the years.
The first session will take off at 10 am and end at 3 pm. Officers said both men and women will “hear each other out”. The men will tell their women colleagues what more they have to do to “fit into” the conventional image of a policewoman and women will explain why that often proves difficult. “We expect our men to explain to their female colleagues how they can be more effective in the force,” a senior officer said. “But, for the most part, the women are going to be encouraged to recount the problems they face in the force and what they would like changed,” he added.
The programme is not for Calcutta alone. Every police force in every major city of the country will come under the programme. Senior Bureau official Rina Mitra will be down from Delhi to watch the outcome of the programme she helped design. Also present will be commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty, accompanied by a phalanx of senior officers, and British Council (Eastern India division) director Sujata Sen.