Financial security, not national security, why women join BSF: study
Financial security is the primary factor for women to join the country’s largest border guard force in the BSF police force rather than the desire to serve the nation, a one-of-a-kind study found.
The study, conducted by BSF official K Ganesh, also found that an overwhelming majority of women working with border guard forces have never experienced major cases of sexual harassment in the workplace.
The study is a first analytical attempt to understand the problems faced by female combatants in one of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), which has a “predominantly” male-focused domain, as well as government policy decision-making. to increase their numbers at 15 years old. percent of total workforce.
Posted in the latest journal of the National Police Think Tank – Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) – found that most female police officers do not have access to a female doctor, that they lack adequate rest during menstrual cycles and the common use of profanity by male colleagues “offends” them.
The Border Security Force, which is around 2.65 lakhs strong, is responsible for guarding the country’s two most important borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh, in addition to conducting counter-insurgency and counter-Naxal operations.
“The main reason why these women chose a career in BSF seems to be financial security …
“Only 11 out of 55 said they were in the service of the nation,” said the study consulted by the PTI.
More than 50 percent of respondents, according to the study, said they will leave the service in less than 20 years and only 18 percent wish to serve until retirement.
“The majority of those interviewed feel that their status in the community has increased due to their membership in BSF,” he said.
The right to liberal leave, access to health care for oneself and one’s family, canteen facilities and other allowances compensate for difficult and risky work, he said.
A total of 55 female staff members stationed in various border units were contacted for the survey-based study that solicited their responses on issues such as job satisfaction, sexual harassment, gender discrimination and the topics that stress and motivate them.
The force, which first recruited female constables in 2008, has a total of 4,147 (1.66% of the total strength) women of various ranks, with gendarmes (the lowest combat rank) constituting most of it at 3,322.
The study found that these personnel “are used on a limited basis and are generally used for gate management, observation service and patrolling with their male colleagues.”
“All tasks are performed jointly with their male colleagues, as assigning them tasks independently is considered physically risky. High risk missions like ambushes and night border missions are not assigned to them,” he said. he declared.
The study also raises questions about the recent government directive to increase the number of women to 15% in border guard forces like the BSF, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB ).
“The current strength of women combatants is around 3,500 (in FBS) and when it is increased to 15% of the total strength, it will reach nearly 30,000 women.
“The problem for the organization would be how to maintain operational efficiency when 15 percent of the force should only be given light tasks,” he said.
He said battalion commanders, who were interviewed during the study, believe that posting women only in places classified as “soft” could likely become an issue of discontent among male personnel.
Speaking about issues related to sexual harassment in the workplace, 54 staff said they “have never had any implicit or explicit request for sexual favors or remarks made about their physical attributes.”
“Fifty-one respondents said they had never been subjected to any kind of inappropriate touching or physical contact or to any sexual prank directed against them,” he said.
At the same time, four interviewees suffered some kind of inappropriate physical contact and sexual jokes against them, he said.
The number could be higher, according to the study, because in the open-ended question, a large number of women indicated some sort of verbally inappropriate behavior and issues like staring.
“Fifty staff members said that the existing mechanism for resolving sexual harassment complaints needs to be improved and that they are not satisfied with the current system,” he said.
Speaking of other issues, the study said none of the women reported getting more than eight hours of sleep, while 17 said they had less than 6 hours to sleep.
A majority of women said that the issue of child custody and separation from family is an “area of major concern” for them and the force should think of a mechanism where child custody can be provided over time. work place.
The women said the barracks available to them were “cramped” and 20 of them said they did not have access to the toilets at the duty station where they were present for 6 to 8 hours at a time.
“Even when it (toilet) is available, there is no water supply, which makes it difficult to use them,” he said.
Other issues reported in the study are: not resting during the menstrual cycle as almost all feel that it is physically very demanding for them to perform tasks, too cautious approach to allow them to get out of the camp to visit the local market, among others.