More policewomen required to curb domestic violence | Pakistan Today

More policewomen required to curb domestic violence

The report by Aurat Foundation’s report on violence against women (VAW) reveals a startling figure of 8,000 incidents that have occurred in the country in 2010. Also, based on the reported cases in a majority of newspapers of Pakistan, no FIR was registered in a large number of incidents, reflecting the citizens’ lack of confidence in the police.
As always, Punjab led the scenario with about 5,492 incidents in all 36 districts, out of which about 4,804 cases were registered in the form of FIRs, 177 cases were not registered, while the status of the remaining 511 cases remains unknown. Meanwhile, as many as 1,652 cases came up in Sindh, 650 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 79 in Baluchistan and 127 in Islamabad, despite it being a small city.
The fact that reports are not registered in police stations to such a large extent highlights the fact that female victims of crime are hesitant to enter police stations, and interact with the police. The fact that males comprise most of the police, who are insensitive to the immediate needs and emotional and mental state of the female victims, is the reason why females are hesitant to report cases.
As crimes against women increase and remain at a very high level all over Pakistan, the dearth of women police officers makes the situation even worse. But if there is one main solution to the entire problem, it lies in the gender training of the police by reiterating sensitivity towards female victims, and of special importance being given to VAW, while on the other hand, an even more specific and short term approach could be to induct more women in the police. This is generally supported by all women’s rights NGOs who believe that the induction of women is something that would result in more empathy for the female victim, rather than a threatening and challenging approach, which makes them extremely uncomfortable.
Aurat Foundation Regional Director Mumtaz Mughal said that it was extremely important for women to be a part of the police but the issue should not just be limited to that. In fact, it was important to see what positions the women were brought in on, he added.
“One of the main problems that women face in a police station is the lodging of FIR,” says Mughal. “When they encounter men who will listen to details of their crime, they will deter from all the details, especially if the crime is sexual in nature. They would prefer the presence of a woman in the police station any time.”
Mughal continues stressing on the fact that women should not just be hired to arrest female criminals and other similar tasks; this is tantamount to wasting their potential. Instead they should be employed at all positions, including in the operations and investigations wings.
“The biggest issue is that when women enter a totally male oriented force, they are in a minority and do not usually change men’s attitudes. What happens instead is that they themselves change and become harsher and less understanding to women’s issues. Once more women are brought in, this is bound to change.”
Mughal opines that women are not the first priority to induct in the police force because in the society, it is not widely accepted for a woman to become a police officer at any level. Even when they are taken in, they do not have much say.
However, Chung Women Police Training Institute Chief Law Instructor Waseem Durrani says that often there are a variety of issues that are cause for concern. “The first problem is that some women, who are present in the police, are from the 1970s and 1980s, which means they have received some of the worst training and are incompetent. Because of bad training, they have never been appointed on a good position and hence they have developed attitudes of laziness and incompetence. Secondly, there are those women who have personal issues, which interfere in their work life. So even if they are helped out by senior male officers, their domestic issues do not allow them to build their career and thus male officers are discouraged as well.”
Durrani says that for the past four years, since the women police training center has been set up, the turn out has been much better. “We have a forensic lab, a model classroom, which has the most advanced tools and multimedia and other facilities that help in their training.”
“Even more than training women, perhaps the need of the day is to train men and instill in them gender sensitivity. Women too must struggle for this and resist any violation of their rights – something that women do not do. But once this happens, males too will begin to accept women in an equal role.”
Durrani goes on to highlight that the need for women police is as important as is the need for a strong male police force. He says they are positioned at cricket matches, at the airport and during Muharram processions, and besides controlling law and order, now an increase in female criminals have also increased who are involved in crimes such as kidnapping, murder, suicide bombing and bank robbery. Even to arrest them, women are needed, he opines. “If 50 per cent of the country is female, then why is 50 per cent of the police force not representing them?” he asks.

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