Violence against women (VAW) has emerged as a major concern for law enforcement agencies all over the world. The level of violence that women  encounter in societies is unfathomable. This is especially true of women in the developing countries. Over the last two decades, justice departments, police, civil society and UN agencies have been busy in evolving new strategies and methods of combating violence against women (VAW).

Violence against women (VAW) is too complex, takes too many forms and intersects with too many other issues for it to be eradicated without a long struggle. It is ingrained in the structure of power relations between women and men and it is bound in traditional gendered roles and expectations. As a group, women often lack access to the power structures, law, resources and education that would equip them to put an end to this violence. And even when they do have the capacities to stop individual cases of violence, these instances are exceptions and not the norm(1).

Rape and sexual violence is the most dehumanizing and traumatic experience for women. Research shows that rape, battering, and other forms of man's violence against women are learnt behaviors that are reinforced by a society that defines masculinity through domination. There is a direct relationship between societal norms and the sexual violence based on male superiority and sexual entitlement. There is no place for gender-based VAW in any civilized society and it needs to be eliminated with all seriousness and might(2).

We cannot change the basic structures of society overnight. But each step in the ongoing effort to eradicate violence puts more pressure on those who condone the violence and allow it to exist. No single government or international agency or civil society organization can hope to have an impact by working in isolation alone. Pooling resources, sharing strengths & knowledge and listening to local leaders will allow end-violence efforts to move to the next level(3). Hence, the fight against the sexual assault in society is the joint responsibility of community, neighborhood, family, civil society, media, education system, criminal justice system, and the government.

It is in this context that Delhi Police started an intervention program 'PARIVARTAN' (change) on 29th August 2005 against rape and domestic violence by deploying women police constables (WPCs) in field in partnership with parents, teachers, psychologists, sociologists, lawyers, students, youth, area security committee members, not- for-profit organizations and resident welfare associations (RWAs) in a well-planned program.



Like any other society, violence against women (VAW) is widely prevalent in Indian society also. Incidence of sexual assaults and rape has increased over the last few years in Delhi at a higher rate than rest of the states in India. Other forms of gender based violence have not shown any major upward trend. As is clear from Bar graph-l, there was an annual increase at the rate of 18 % in the rape cases in Delhi since 2001.

In addition to this, there were three widely publicized instances of rape cases in moving vehicles on the roads of Delhi including rape of a Swiss diplomat during 2004-2005. The whole city was under the grip of fear. The national media dubbed Delhi as the "rape capital of India". Even international media based in Delhi endorsed the fear of people of "Delhi being an unsafe city for women". The Delhi Police was under tremendous pressure to contain the increasing graph of sexual assault and rape cases in the capital city of India.

In June 2005, senior officers and experts were asked to study the extent and nature of the phenomenon of increasing gender based violence and to prepare a structured intervention for eliminating the menace and its root causes in a time bound manner. The time Schedule for the intervention was prepared.

1.  Analysis of magnitude and nature                                            July 15, 2005
2. Development of the Intervention                                               August 15, 2005
3. Implementation of Intervention                                                 August 31, 2005
4. Review and modification                                                            Feb., 2006
5. Annual Review                                                                           August 29, 2006
6. Institutionalization                                                                    Sep. 2006 to March 2007

The study involved interaction with social scientists, civil society members, gender specialists from UN agencies, lawyers, psychologists, social workers, senior police officers, and the field police officers. The researchers/ practitioners employed the technique of interview-schedule, personal interviews, participatory rapid urban appraisal, focused-group discussion, survey of literature, content analysis of media reports, and recording of expert opinions for data collection. The national, provincial and local data was analyzed; interpretation and the findings were documented.


A brainstorming session on the causes of incidence of violence against women in Delhi revealed that crime was increasing due to weakening of community sanctions, disintegration of neighborhood ties, dilution in parental authority, break-down of joint family system, unregulated migration, proliferation of pornographic material, sexual double standards, lack of privacy in unplanned colonies and slums, lack of healthy interaction and inter-mixing between the two sexes, adverse sex-ratio etc. However, researchers opined that patriarchy and its associated practices are the root cause of violence against women in Indian society.
It is a well researched premise that gender-based violence has been identified as the product of learnt behavior in societies structured around dynamics of power and domination. As such, it can be changed, particularly through proper education of children, youth and adults at the community level.


Delhi, the capital of India, is a rapidly growing city with 15 million population and is spread over 1483 sq. km. area. It had 9 districts before creation of Outer Distt. on 5.09.07 by carving out area from North West district. The study revealed that there were many hot spots spread all over Delhi, but majority of these hot spots were located in the jurisdiction of erstwhile North-West district (population 3 million). It is very clear from Table 1, Pie-chart No. 1 & 2, and Bar graph that the North West district was the largest contributor of rape cases in Delhi. After a lot of brainstorming, it was decided that a structured intervention program would be developed for the North-West district of Delhi. A crime mapping and analysis led to selection of 20 beats out of 200 beats of the erstwhile North-West district where the intervention was to be implemented in the first phase. Beat is the smallest operational field unit in police with a population size of 10,000 to 50,000. All these areas are density populated by the poor people (population 1 m).


On the basis of the findings of the study, the problem areas were defined as under:

  • The incidence of rape was increasing in Delhi at an alarming annual rate of 18% for the last  four years.
  • In 2005, 29% of the total rape cases were being reported from North West district out of total 9 districts in Delhi.
  • It was also observed that more than 95% of sex-offenders were relatives/ neighbors / friends of the survivors/ victims. The rape by strangers though very less but were highly violent in nature.
  • The incidence of domestic violence, wife-battering, dowry deaths, child abuse, kidnapping and abduction were also prevalent in the community.
  • The male police officers were lacking required sensitivity to the women victims and their conduct towards them needed a lot of improvement.
  • Law Enforcement Agency did not have a positive perception among citizens, as victims were subject to secondary victimization at the police stations.
  • Most of victims were not aware of law and related provisions such as free legal aid, Women Help Lines, counseling centers, short-stay homes etc.
  • The public spaces such as roads, bus stands, parks; sub-ways, etc. were also perceived to be quite unsafe for women.
  • Women victims and prosecution witnesses were harassed by the offenders leading to   acquittal.



As problem was quite complicated, developing the solution was equally difficult and challenging. One of the obvious option was to increase manpower and direct patrol vehicles towards hot spots. Another option was to publicize extensively in the media about the false perception of insecurity among women in the city as the fear was perceived rather than real. There were only 3 isolated cases of rape in moving vehicles in a mega city of over 15 million population and rapes by strangers were only 4-6 % of total rapes. More than 95% of rape cases were committed by boy-friends, neighborsor relatives.

Yet another option available was to motivate and conduct special training program of those police personnel who were deployed at field policing; and to penalize those who were not able to contain the crime in their respective area of responsibility. All these options or a combination of these were not considered adequate enough to solve the problem as it was much complex and needed a far more sophisticated perspective and multi-dimensional strategic planning and implementation.

After a lot of consultation with professionals from both the agency and the community, it was decided to change the "method of operation", "gender of field staff", "mind-set of police force", "place of reporting by victim", "modes of communication with the community", "style of functioning" etc. of policing. Hence the program was named as PARIVARTAN.


In India, no law enforcement agency has started such intervention earlier. Only few unstructured or loosely structured community policing schemes were started which could not succeed or sustain. The results were not documented and measurable. Hence, we could not do any benchmarking. It was decided to set new targets; adopt new methods and new tools of intervention.



In the beginning, 40 women police constables (WPCs) were deployed in the "Implementation Team" in 20 beats under supervision of an officer of the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police designated as Nodal Officer. There were other teams with members comprised of police officers at different levels of organizational hierarchy, sociologists from Universities, professionals from different sections such as medicine, law, clinical psychology, management, media, IT and development communication. The program has now been extended to 40 beats in North West and Outer Districts.

 Each member of these teams was involved in the conceptualization, evolution and implementation of the intervention program. The roles, responsibilities and accountability of each member were clearly defined in the standard operating procedures (SOPs).


Mission Statement

To change the patriarchal mindset of society toward women to

  • substantially reduce violence against women particularly rape in the city
  • create an atmosphere of safety wherein women would feel safe and secure.


  •  Violence Against Women including Rape is a learnt behaviour.
  • Something that is  learnt can be unlearnt.


The Parivartan Cell endeavors to build a sustainable partnership with the society for creating a safe and violence free environment for women and children by:

a) Effective deployment of the Women Beat Constables in the sensitive beats for redressal of their    grievances

b) Organizing awareness activities to sensitize the society and obtain their feedback and    suggestions

c) Formation of Women Safety Committees for wider dissemination of the Parivirtan Campaign and    play a vital role in myriad interwoven factors that give rise to violence against women and children

d) Organizing Self Defense training programmes to empower the women and girl child to tackle the    untoward situations by their own

e) Motivating the women and girl child to report the cases of sexual assault

f) Continually improving the effectiveness of the processes Quality Management System


a) To reduce the annual growth rate of crime against women & children by at least 25% per annum.

b) To organize at least one pantomime show in each beat covered under Parivartan programme on    yearly basis.

c) To organize at least one workshop and lectures in educational institutes in each Police Station    covered under Parivartan programme on yearly basis to sensitize the students and teachers about    the prevailing crime against women.

d) To organize at least one self defense training programme in each Sub-division of North West    District on yearly basis to empower the women/girls.

e) To initiate action on the complaints immediately except those which required review by the Senior    Officers, which can be taken within 3 days from the receipt of the complaint.

f) To process the complaints regarding functioning of Parivartan within 3 days.

g) To organize at least one workshop on monthly basis to sensitize the male staff about Parivartan    and crime against women.

h) To review the role/participation of the members of Women Safety Committee in the    implementation of programmes under Parivartan on yearly basis.

i)  To organize at least one awareness programme/meeting in each beat covered under Parivartan    programme on yearly basis.


  • Targeting both the potential as well as past offenders.
  • Targeting both the potential as well as past victims
  •  Constructive engagement of civil society, intelligentsia & media.
  • Developing mechanisms for speedy support to victims.
  • De-constructing patriarchal mind-set and associated practices.
  • Ensuring safety of victim and prosecution witnesses.


  • Orientation and training of Police staff on gender issues.
  • Door to Door Awareness Campaign by women beat constables.
  • Pantomime performances for sensitization of communities.
  • Awareness Lectures by Police Officers for sensitization of parents.
  • Psychological counseling for  sensitization of girl child and teachers.
  • Formation of women safety committees in the communities.




  • Door-step policing by women police constables (WPCs) for identification and redressal of grievances of women within the community. Women police officers build confidence within women with regard to their own safety in the immediate environment.
  • Four hundred eighty nine (489) intensive pantomime performances were conducted over a period of 35 months focusing on
    - Rape and sexual assault (Hadsa)
      - Dowry harassment (Matadin ki Kahani)
      - Domestic violence against women (Ramkali Ki Kahani).
  • Each of these performances is interactive and participatory in nature. These performances attract huge crowds and the community request for repeat performances in certain areas. These performances act as instant catalysts in some instances leading to identification of real cases of violence and sexual harassment due to women voluntarily coming forward.
  • Workshops are conducted in schools in the Outer & North West districts with the help of an eminent psychologist, with an aim to highlight possible preventive measures that can be undertaken by children, especially adolescent girls, the teachers and the parents with regard to safety of women and children. The workshops also offer a confidential Helpline to the students regarding life skills, social skills and counseling on issues related to violence and sexual crime. The workshops and interaction with the students also act as baseline data for the survey which is conducted at the micro level within the program on the present status of safety of girl child with a view to give inputs for the long term program on the PARIVARTAN campaign

"16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence" campaign was launched on 25th November, 2005. During the campaign painting competitions, declamation contests, self-defense training programs and other such activities were organized in schools and colleges.

Another important feature of PARIVARTAN is that within each beat a group of 20 women members of the community have also been trained to act as Community COUNSELLORS for the extension of the awareness campaign about safety of women and children within as well as outside the four walls of home.

The various media channels are used so as to consistently reinforce positively on the various interventions and its impact to the various strata of the community. The mobile van with audio-video and multimedia CD was launched so as to periodically sensitize and reinforce the sustained impact among the various strata of the community.

    Action on Ground







    Pantomime Shows






    Awareness  Movies






    Women Safety Committee Meetings






    Workshops  In Educational Institutes






    Male Sensitization Courses






    Training Orientation Courses







With so many fruitful activities, we also had our share of difficulties and the report would be incomplete if they are not mentioned here. However, the program successfully evolved by overcoming these challenges.

  • Initially the response of the male police officers was not very forthcoming; therefore, it was decided to further sensitize them about this issue. There was some resistance from some senior professionals also as they did not see any utility of such interventions.
  • In the selected beats the campaign generated demand from community that could not be met, highlighting the acute shortage of legal counseling, shelters, health care and other services.
  • The importance of baseline studies became evident. These are needed to measure changes in attitudes and behaviors and the differential impact of various activities over a period of time.
  • Participation of other agencies such as Social Welfare Department, Health Department, etc. needs to be enhanced.
  • There was acute shortage of publicity and safety literature as there was a great demand for such material. The budgetary support was quite moderate.
  • The monitoring and coordination of activities of WPCs and various agencies involved in PARIVARTAN was not organized perfectly and it needed further systematization.


The program has developed institutional partnership with various UN agencies, Government agencies, Women organizations, universities and not-for-profit organizations with varying degree of integration.



The Program has been kept very transparent from the very inception. All the activities are notified in advanced for viewing or attending. All are free to comment, review, criticize and give feedback. The feedback so received are processed at the highest level and after due deliberations by expert group it is integrated with the program. The program has been evolved in a cyclical manner.

The program was reviewed by both infernal as well as external experts. The external review was conducted in 2007 by researchers of Delhi School of Social Work, University of Delhi. First All India level review conference was held on Feb 20, 2006 in Delhi. In which representative of UNIFEM, UNFPA, women commissions, state, Police, universities, civil society and media participated. Second review conference was held on August 29, 2006 on completion of one year of PARIVARTAN. On this occasion a documentary film was released on the work and experience of women police officers.


Most of the results achieved were measurable and comparable with the statistics of period prior to the intervention. The recorded data clearly indicates that the results are the direct outcome of the skills, tools and techniques applied during the intervention under various constraints and difficulties. Difficulties/ challenges are mentioned later in this section.

  1. The first target was fully achieved as there was 5.5% negative growth in the incidence of rape in Delhi in 2006 as compared to 2005 (Graph 3).
  2. The second target was fully achieved as the proportion of North West District in the incidence of rape in Delhi was reduced from 29% in 2005 to 27% in 2006 (Pie-diagram 3 &4).
  3. The number of rapes by strangers remained between 2-3%, which was desired as an outcome of the intervention.
  4. The target was fully achieved as there was 11% negative growth in 2006 in the overall incidence of violence against women (VAW) including rape as against 2005 in North West District (Bar diagram 1 & 2). The training program for the sensitization of male workforce was organized as per the target.

  5. All the programmes were organized as per the targets.
  6. The women beat constables took special care of women victims and witnesses but the impact on conviction rate could not measured. The program succeeded in creating an atmosphere of safety for women in the selected beats covered under PARIVARTAN.


  1. It strengthened the police-public relations in the target area.
  2. The program generated a lot of good will among civil society for Delhi Police.
  3. Both national and international media did positive reporting of the intervention.
  4. The women beat constables worked with full motivation and dedication and emerged as the real change agents in the community.
  5. The professional researchers started taking interest in the success of PARIVARTAN.
  6. Civil society organizations and professionals volunteered to offer help and join this initiative for betterment of society.
  7. A network of various social service agencies and women safety committees was developed and in the absence of women beat constables worked very well in emergency situations.


  • Awarded ISO 9001:2000 Certificate by STQC, Ministry of IT (Govt. of India).
  • Awarded  Webber Seavey Award 2006 by (IACP) Washington, USA.
  • Selected amongst 10 best practices by  UNDP.
  • Nominated for IBM International Award (2007) of $100,000 for ‘Innovations in Government’ by the John F. Kennedy School's, of Harvard University, USA.
  • Appreciated and selected for its Ph.D programme by Gender Institute, LSE, London.



On the occasion of first all India review conference in February, 2006, a draft proposal for giving it a structural and institutional basis was circulated. The program was extended to whole of Delhi in selected beats for next 5 years on Feb 20, 2006 since attitudinal change requires sustained intervention.


  1. UNIFEM.2003. Not a minute more: Ending violence against women, New York: UNIFEM
  2. IBID.
  3. IBID