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“Policing and Gendered Cases in India” by Nirvikar Jassal
April 7, 2021 @ 8:00 am – 9:00 am JST
Author: Nirvikar Jassal (Stanford)
Abstract: How and why women are marginalized within public agencies remains understudied. Using original micro-level data on crime in India, I highlight the patterns of exclusion faced by women in law enforcement. By classifying India’s Penal Code, I demonstrate that women are tasked with specific cases, especially ‘non-heinous’ gendered crimes that the bureaucracy prefers to address informally. Because policewomen are tasked with—rather than self-select into—arbitrating sexual- or dowry-harassment, they are impeded from serving in cases seen as high-prestige, including investigating murder and rape. Nevertheless, female supervisors are able to mitigate such occupational segregation; they are more likely to allocate policewomen diverse tasks, and they play a causal role in assigning female investigators more cases. I argue that without an equitable division of labor or female leadership, a ‘representative bureaucracy’ may not translate into an egalitarian institution because newly represented groups may simply be pushed toward tasks seen as low-prestige.