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From FIRs To Convictions, Women's Cases Tend To Lag Longer Than Men: Study

The study gathered information from 4,18,190 FIRs between January 2015 and November 2018 in Haryana, of which 37,637 or 9 per cent were registered by women.

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Police (Representative image)
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Patriarchy and gender inequality are deep-rooted in India, and it is reflected in the challenges women face on a regular basis. A study has now found that the gender of a person filing a First Information Report (FIR) also has a role to play in the outcome of the case, at least in some places.

More than 4 lakh FIRs in Haryana have revealed that if a male complainant registers a case on behalf of his woman friend or relative, he is less likely to “face burdens or exclusions” than if the woman was the primary complainant, a study published in the American Political Science Review stated.

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The study gathered information from 4,18,190 FIRs between January 2015 and November 2018 in Haryana, of which 37,637 or 9 per cent were registered by women. It was published by Nirvikar Jassal, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics and Political Science(LSE), in October.

The cases studied ranged from theft to burglary to violence against women and they were traced from the initial filing of the FIR to the final outcome in court. The study matched more than 2.5 lakh FIRs with judicial records found on the e-courts website and found that women’s complaints are less likely to go to court and have fewer convictions — 5 per cent – even when they do, compared to men’s complaints at 17.9 per cent.

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“Women’s cases have, on average, a lag of over a month longer than men between incident and registration, suggesting significant delays between crime occurrence and when the state takes cognizance of the case,” the study finds. It also states that women’s cases “spend longer in the judiciary by over a month.”

As a result, women complainants seeking justice from the state have “a lower chance of a suspect that wronged them being sent to prison for either type of complaint”.

This is not the only study that has found gender-based inequality in police treatment of women complainants. Multiple studies have shown that police constables are gender biased, discriminatory, insensitive, disrespectful, and often blame women for their grievances. 

A study by Saumya Tripathi surveying 190 police officers from Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, found that police officials held a high degree of patriarchal belief and inequitable perceptions regarding the gender roles of women.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Jassal says that based on the data collected, “it does not appear that simply creating more police stations (or mahila thanas) or special women’s courts or even fast-track courts is the solution to mitigate these jarring disparities.” 

Tripathi says in her study that one way to go is to have gender-sensitive interventions that may help facilitate positive change for police officers who hold strong patriarchal perceptions towards women.

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