Despite making up nearly half of the world’s population, women represent less than 10 percent of law enforcement personnel worldwide. That’s a statistic that needs to change, according to Auburn University at Montgomery criminal justice Prit Kaur, particularly as police globally wrestle with cybercrime and exploitation of women and children.
“It has now become not a need, but an emergency,” Kaur said.
Kaur said that increasing numbers of female officers would bring emotional intelligence to law enforcement agencies while making them more representative of the populaces they protect.
“Female officers provide a greater sense of security to women and children,” Kaur said. “They readily and sensitively respond to sexual exploitation and abuse, and thus, improve access to females and children to appeal to and seek support from law enforcement agencies.”
Kaur will have an opportunity to make the case for modifying the recruitment and training of law enforcement officers to improve gender representation at United Nations Headquarters on March 21. She will present research and policy recommendations at the 63rd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63) to an audience of policymakers, practitioners, scholars and activists from United Nations member countries. AUM Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Collaborative Partnerships and Distance Education Initiatives Shanta Varma will attend the conference as a co-presenter for the project.
Kaur’s will present on the “Role and Scope of Women Police in Cyber Crime and Cyber Victimization” in a session on “Access to Justice for Women and Girls: The Role of Women in Law Enforcement and Peacekeeping.” Kaur said women can help fill a knowledge gap that exists for local-level law enforcement entities trying to respond to cybercrime. Kaur pointed to domestic violence cases in which a husband or boyfriend may engage in cyberstalking, using GPS to track an estranged partner. “What is going on right now is that most of the police departments are focusing on `macro-level’ victimization,” she said. “Women are becoming more victimized in local-level crimes like sextortion and domestic violence.”
In the United States, women make up 51 percent of the population, according to Census Bureau data, but make up 11.9 percent of the police force population. Worldwide, women fill 9.1 percent of law enforcement positions despite representing 49.5 percent of the population. Kaur saw the imbalance in the workplace while serving as a training officer in the Investigation and Intelligence Wing of Punjab State Police in India in the early 2000s. She was one of two female officers among several hundred at the academy.
“Police departments should stop projecting police as an authoritarian and tough profession suitable only for males,” she said. She added that women can bring the “intellectual skills” necessary for effectiveness in the cyber space, as well as building trust with reluctant witnesses and victims and in interrogations and negotiations.