Scale-up of Help Desks to Improve Police Responsiveness to Women in India
India faces rising gender-based violence (GBV), much of which is staggeringly under-reported. In response, the Madhya Pradesh Police (MPP) department introduced Women’s Help Desks (WHDs): dedicated spaces for women in local police stations, staffed by trained officers, in order to increase responsiveness of the police to women’s cases. With funding from J-PAL's Crime and Violence Initiative in 2018, the project team evaluated this intervention via a large-scale randomized controlled trial (180 police stations serving 23.4 million people), finding that officers in stations with WHDs are more likely to register cases of GBV, particularly where (randomly-assigned) female officers run the desks. Results suggest that, even in resource constrained and patriarchal environments, police responsiveness can be improved by focusing and mainstreaming attention to women’s cases and by greater gender representation within the police.
Based partially on the results of this experiment, MPP has decided to scale up the WHD program to 700 police stations across the state. The project team plans to assist the scale up by providing technical support on training activities; process monitoring to ensure and understand fidelity to the original intervention procedures; and setting up simple monitoring systems to provide feedback on program performance. The project will also include qualitatively and quantitatively studying the process of the scale-up itself.