IGPs support spreading out women’s police networks


LAHORE – In a country where women comprise about 50 percent of the population, and the most crimes that occur do so against women, it is also women police officers (WPOs) that are needed the most in order to make the police force more viable and more gender sensitive.
Campaigning for the inclusion of more women, especially from an educated background, in the police is integral but to achieve this result there must be all-out support given by some of the police high-ups as well. These higher officials generally comprise male police officers.
However, while there is only a slight level of resistance in the lower levels of the police force, and those too were only challenges – there is a much more positive response among the higher ranks and designations. This has been proved by the fact that recently the very first launch of a women police network took place in Islamabad where the inspector generals of police (IGPs) from all four provinces took part along with additional IGPs, and other higher officials.
The project was an initiative of the Gender Responsive Policing Project (GRPP), which is based in Islamabad but is functioning to form these women police networks all over Pakistan. They have initiated by starting in Islamabad and will soon expand all over the country. Pakistan Today spoke to the IGPs of all four provinces and recorded their response concerning the issue of shortage of human resources within the police, at both federal and provincial levels, along with the new network that focuses primarily on WPOs and the needs of women victims of crime.
“Modern day policing, without active participation of female members of the organisation, is not only incomplete to meet professional objectives but also unlikely to deliver to public aspirations,” says Inspector General Malik Iqbal, former IGP of Balochistan until his posting as FIA director, Islamabad. “In many of our rural set-ups, (which is about more than half of the country), women cannot even face me. They cannot state their problems in front of male doctors, and stating their problems in front of male police officers is out of the question for them.”
IG Iqbal says that the government should take a solid step where this issue is concerned and that at least two to three women should be posted in every police station. “Of course they should also be given powers and promoted,” he says. Fayyaz Ahmed Laghari, IG Sindh, raises a newer point saying that perhaps the only way to get rid of the tarnished image of the police in Pakistan is by forming a better network with more WPOs in this network.
“This will improve community relations and foster a more flexible, and less violent, approach to fight crime,” he says. “There is bound to be an attitude change with more WPOs coming in. If we are successful with this.” Laghari says that in a male-centred world which existed even before the formal police came about, but there is proof that women as crime fighters throughout the world have proved to be brilliant whether in operations, in special branches or in investigations.
“Gender alone should never be treated as a benchmark of success,” he says. “But with the formation of this network of women police in Islamabad, we hope that this can be forwarded in all other provinces too.” The Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KPK) IG also supports this move. While counter terrorism is the call for the day, issues such as violence against women are being ignored more or less not just by the authorities and the police in general, but by the media too. KPK one of the worst hit by terrorism needs women more than ever in its police stations to fight VAW and to help create a more sensitive environment for women victims.
“The KPK Police has been the frontline force since some time now, in tackling militancy in the country,” says Inspector General Fayaz Ahmed Khan Torug.
“We have done a lot to ensure peace, fighting militancy. However, without doubt, WPOs work equally well as males on their jobs and there are no differences in their job performance, capabilities and administrative skills when compared to the male officers in the same rank. But their biggest challenge in the service is that despite all they do, they receive little recognition of their role in police and less involvement in mainstream policing.” IG Torug opines that active participation of these WPOs will not only transform the police culture but will also improve the service delivery.
Meanwhile Punjab is the worst hit by reported crimes against women. It is the most populous province, but also has the worst crime occurrences especially in smaller towns, villages and districts. Out of 4,069 incidents of violence against women (Jan 2009-Jun 2010), 2,690 violence cases were reported from Punjab. This is not counting the cases that have gone unreported.
IG Javaid Iqbal says that he strongly supports gender mainstreaming of WPOs and believes in helping to optimize their performance within the police. “This must be done to meet the challenges of the twenty first century,” he says. “I personally approve of delegating them more operational roles in future. This is the only way in which there is proper dispensation of justice to the public, especially in those areas and sectors, where the women are unable to report crimes against them out of social fears.”