Women GRP cops life is much tougher than ordinary women in Mumbai

Staff ReporterUpdated: Thursday, May 30, 2019, 02:18 PM IST
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Mumbai: Railway Ladies Police Changing room at Churchgate. Photo by BL SONI |

The 579-strong force has to put up with nearly inhuman working conditions

Mumbai: Life is tough for ordinary women in Mumbai. But it’s a whole lot tougher if you are a police woman attached to the Government Railway Police (GRP) deployed on the city’s 129 railway stations. The 579 strong force has to put up with nearly inhuman working conditions – from no drinking water and toilet facilities to nary a chair to sit during the 12-hour long duty stint. And of course sexual harassment is never too far away.

Anita Bhoite (names have been changed to protect identity), GRP policewoman, posted on Western Railway after undergoing training in Nashik, said that women in policing are often molested by male trainers while undergoing training as new recruits. “Molestation and using double entendre is quite common during training. But we don’t complain against the male trainers, fearing that he will spoil our service sheet right at the beginning of our career,” she said.

Despite the Central government’s guideline to provide crèches at all police stations across India, there is no space for children whose mothers are policewomen in those stations. “I keep my baby in a private crèche whenever I come to work,” said a woman police constable, who has five months old daughter. She feeds her baby only once or twice in 24 hours, as she remains out of home for more than 15 hours. “My baby is underweight and cries a lot in my absence,” she lamented.

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However, Rupali Ambure, DCP GRP (Central Railway), said, “We had taken up an initiative to start a crèche at each police station but since none of the women came forward to use the facility so we did not start them.”

Many GRP police stations in Mumbai either have no toilets or the women have to share a unisex lavatory, which most of the time is soiled and stinking. “We need to knock on the door before entering the toilet, just in case someone else is using it,” said Pranita Joshi, deployed at the Churchgate station.

But most of all, the police women complained of having no proper changing rooms. The FPJ visited various GRP police stations and found that even at large stations including Churchgate, Mumbai Central, Borivali and Vasai there are no proper changing rooms. “We go to the waiting room to change into our uniforms,” said Joshi. At best, they have been given a fibre box, like trial rooms in shopping malls, as changing rooms. “There are around 20 women police officers. How can we change our uniform at once? It takes time,” said Joshi.

Swapna Kadam added, “There is no drinking water for us. We will end up in a hospital if we drink the water in the station area. So we go to the nearest restaurants or offices to get our water.”

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Those deployed at Wadala GRP live under constant fear of the roof or the walls of the GRP station collapsing on them. “With the station located between tracks, every second we feel that we will be mowed down by the local trains that pass,” said Kadam deployed at Wadala.

Most police women also complained that they are forced to eat in the chaotic ambience of public platforms at the railway stations in the absence of a proper room or office. “Our job as police is for 12 hours. We get tired standing but we don’t have proper place where we can sit and relax for 5/10 minutes,” said Bhoite.

Even senior level GRP officers claimed to face similar problems. “Even I faced problem during my pregnancy, as there was a law and order issue for which I was bound to be there,” said a senior officer who did not want to be named. “Policing is a challenging work,” she agreed, and added, “But we get more respect that our male counterparts.”

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