Engendering Policing: Evaluating Reforms to Increase Women’s Access to Security and Justice
Poor and marginalized citizens, particularly women, often lack access to a responsive police force and, consequently experience diminished security and high levels of crime and violence. Efforts to address such issues often include gender-targeted policing interventions, but the underlying assumptions as well as impacts of such interventions have not been rigorously studied to date. We study them in the context of India, a country plagued by rising rates of gender-based violence coupled with low rates of reporting of such crimes. We employ an RCT to evaluate whether the establishment of police station-level Women’s Help Desks (WHDs), as well as the deployment of additional female personnel to these WHDs, improves the responsiveness of frontline officers to women, as well as levels of crime and crime reporting. We aim to test the theory that the increased presence of under-represented groups within the police can favorably affect policing practices towards these groups.