Last year, Mumbai's Police Commissioner promised the Bombay High Court that 33 percent of his force would soon consist of women constables. How's that going? Well, there are only about 300 women on the street right now — about 10 percent of the entire force — but Vivek Phansalkar, the joint police commissioner for traffic, says they're planning to recruit 800-900 women ASAP. And while the current numbers may seem disappointing, women cops told the Wall Street Journal that the fact that they're actually working as traffic police is a huge step forward: in the past, women constables have mostly been consigned to desk jobs.
It's not all about equal rights: male colleagues are mostly pleased that the force is recruiting more women because they're prohibited by law from frisking or testing any women they pull over on Mumbai's famously hectic roads. "Earlier you could get away with anything just because you were a woman and the male cops wouldn't stop you," said one Mumbai resident. "But now there are women cops to keep a check."
Women cops told the WSJ that they're thrilled about being promoted to the new positions and don't even really mind rude hand gestures and comments from male drivers who are unused to women cops/are assholes; after years of working as court escorts and festival guards (jobs that require longer hours as well), manning traffic signals gives them a sense of empowerment. "My father was a traffic policeman. I always wanted to be one, too," said Supriya Salvi, a 24-year-old traffic cop. One hopes that any male driver who thinks he can "woo" these new cops — as one young man told the paper — will get a special kind of ticket.