Kozhikode, Kerala- On October 27, 1973, in Kozhikode city , a momentous event unfolded as then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi inaugurated the very first 'Women-Only Police Station' in India. A symbolic gesture occurred during the inauguration, with the Prime Minister presenting a pen to M Padminiamma, the first sub-inspector in charge of the station, who used it to sign the inaugural register. The establishment of this Vanita (Women) Police Station was driven by both progressive ideals and humanitarian concerns.
Indeed, this police station holds a prestigious position as the inaugural women-only police station, not just within India but throughout the continent of Asia. Kerala Police proudly acknowledges it as Asia's foremost police station dedicated to women on their website. However, the fascinating journey to reaffirm its historical significance began when preparations were underway for celebrating the police station's golden jubilee.
Driven by curiosity, the officers embarked on an online quest to uncover its place in the global landscape. Their initial search for information about women's police stations led to an unexpected revelation. Much to their delight and amazement, the internet revealed a seemingly earlier establishment of 'Delegacia de Polícia de Defesa da Mulher' (Police Station in Defense of Women) by the Sao Paulo Police Department in Brazil on August 6, 1985.
The lack of comprehensive documentation in earlier years had somewhat obscured this vital piece of history. However, the diligent research efforts have helped illuminate and reaffirm the station's extraordinary role, not just on a regional but also on a global scale. ACP Bijuraj P of Kozhikode city said, " the inauguration of the Kozhikode station took place as early as 1973. It undeniably retains its position as Asia's trailblazing institution, and our research unequivocally confirms its status as a global pioneer."
Kerala Police has been organising various events to commemorate the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Kozhikode Vanitha Police Station, which will conclude on Friday. These celebrations encompass a wide range of activities, reflecting the station's commitment to the community and the advancement of women's causes. The events include blood donation camps for women and children, hair donation drives to support cancer patients, and awareness campaigns addressing issues such as drug abuse and child education.
In addition to these community-oriented activities, the celebration also encompasses a significant aspect of recognition and empowerment. ACP Bijuraj mentioned that the festivities involve honouring former station house officers of the police station. Seminars and programs focusing on women's empowerment are also a part of the comprehensive celebration.
The Mooknayak spoke to Tulsi KK, the current head of the police station, who shared insightful information about the station's operations despite her demanding schedule due to the Golden Jubilee celebrations.
Thulasi holds the distinction of being the first woman officer to take charge of this station through direct recruitment as a sub-inspector, a departure from the previous tradition of appointing in-charge officers from among sub-inspectors promoted within the department.
Tulsi disclosed that, on average, the station registers between 10 to 20 cases every month. These cases predominantly revolve around issues of domestic violence, disputes between neighbours, and marital conflicts. Notably, the station exclusively serves women who come forward with their grievances, but it also registers cases where women are accused. The majority of cases are associated with family disputes and domestic violence. The women officers, often referred to as civil police officers, employ a compassionate and empathetic approach in an attempt to resolve these disputes through counselling. If counselling fails to yield a resolution, a formal case is registered.
The station boasts a staff of 25 individuals, including 11 women Senior Civil Police Officers (Sr CPO) and 13 Civil Police Officers (CPO). Additionally, there are three male jeep drivers who support the station's operations. This comprehensive staff composition ensures that the station can effectively address the unique needs and challenges faced by women in the region, underlining the significance of its role in the community.
Tulsi also expressed deep pride in her role at this historic police station. It carries the honour of being not only the first ladies-only police station in India or Asia but in the entire world. The officer said she recently had the opportunity to meet M Padminiamma, the first in-charge sub-inspector of the station. Padminiamma, who retired in 1995, now resides in Trivandrum with her son.
The Mooknayak also spoke with Thulasi CT, a Civil Police Officer (CPO) at the police station, who has been serving there for the past five months and is currently on night duty.
Balancing the responsibilities of police service, particularly for women, with household duties can be a challenge. However, Thulasi explained that female policemen are granted maternity leave, and female staff are typically exempted from night duty until their child reaches one and a half years of age. In her case, with a two-year-old daughter, she recently resumed night duty. Thulasi manages this balancing act by checking on her daughter and providing care during her duty breaks, and this collaborative approach is embraced by the entire staff.
The police station maintains a helpline that operates from 6 pm to 8 am, effectively resolving complaints during these crucial hours. Additionally, there is a 'Paraav' system in place, where women police officers work in shifts, providing around-the-clock coverage and patrolling in the station's jeep. This ensures that women in need can reach the police station fearlessly, no matter the time, highlighting the station's commitment to women's safety and welfare.
Even today the fairer sex continues to grapple with securing their rights within a society that is often male-dominated. One can simply imagine the scenario five decades ago, when the situation was even more challenging, particularly in the context of female literacy and education, especially in rural areas where opportunities were limited. During that time, women who sought justice encountered an overwhelmingly male-dominated environment within police stations, a formidable barrier to overcome, particularly for those who lacked access to educational empowerment.
The establishment of the first Women-Only Police Station, as recalled by First Sub-Inspector M Padminiamma, held a profound purpose: to provide an accessible platform for women to register their complaints and seek justice. It was a vital step towards bridging the gender gap in accessing law enforcement services and addressing the specific issues faced by women.
In its early days, the uniform for the women police officers comprised white sarees with a blue border. Over time, this changed to sarees with a green border. The transition to the familiar khaki uniforms that we associate with police officers today occurred much later. These evolving uniform choices mirror the changing times and reflect the progress made in integrating women into law enforcement. The shift to pants and shirts further facilitated women's participation in policing, making their roles more inclusive and accessible.