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Sukhtankar, S., Kruks-Wisner, G., & Mangla, A. (2022). Science. 377(6602), 191-198. 

Abstract 

Gender-targeted police reforms are frequently proposed to tackle the global problem of rising yet under-reported gender-based violence (GBV)—but with mixed and often disappointing results. We explore this issue in India, a country with alarming rates of GBV and limited police capacity, by studying the impact of Women’s Help Desks (WHDs): dedicated spaces for women in local police stations, staffed by trained officers. Drawing on the largest randomized controlled trial of a police reform to date (180 police stations serving 23.4 million people), we find that officers in stations with WHDs are more likely to register cases of GBV, particularly where female officers run the desks. This suggests that even in resource-constrained and patriarchal environments, police responsiveness can be improved by focusing and mainstreaming attention to women’s cases and by greater gender representation within the police. 

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