KARACHI: Although the country’s legislatures have in recent years adopted several laws that aim to protect women’s rights, the percentage of women in police remains below two per cent.
According to officials quoting data compiled by the National Police Bureau (NPB), there are a total of 391,364 police personnel across the country, of which only 5,731 are women.
The data shows that at 3.4pc, Gilgit-Baltistan boasts the highest percentage of policewomen when compared to the other regions and provinces. In one of the provinces the percentage of women in the police force is as low as 0.48pc.
The officials admitted that apart from cultural norms and traditions, a lack of encouragement “from within the government institutions” contributed to the low ratio of women in the force, adding that it should at least be 10pc.
Gilgit-Baltistan boasts highest percentage of policewomen
“The situation in Balochistan is disappointing,” said an official citing the NPB data. “Only 156 policewomen are working in the largest province, where the strength of the force stands at 32,850. The situation is so grim that there is only one inspector, one sub-inspector and one female assistant sub-inspector in the force as a majority of the women are serving as constables,” he regretted.
In Islamabad, the situation was comparatively better but hardly satisfactory, said the official, as 278 women personnel were working there, which came to only 2.8pc of the force.
In Punjab there are 2,804 policewomen — 1.8 pc of the force — and in Sindh female participation stands at 1.5pc with 1,498 women in the force.
“In Azad Kashmir, 1.6pc of the personnel are women, as there are only 129 women serving in the 8,325-strong force. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the percentage is as low as 1pc, with 683 policewomen working in a force of 68,106 personnel,” added the official.
The officials, however, pointed out that the number of policewomen was improving as their percentage had increased to 1.46pc across the country from 0.94pc a year ago.
“It’s not satisfactory but it’s improving, I must say,” said NPB’s Director General Iqbal Mahmood.
“Before blaming any individual or institution for the current situation, young female graduates have to take an initiative to opt for policing as a profession.”
Erum Awan, currently serving as superintendent of police (SP) in Karachi traffic police, agreed that there was a lack of interest among educated women towards the profession. However, she said, there were several other reasons as well behind the negative perceptions about the police force.
“First, the girl’s family advises her not to join the profession,” said SP Awan. “Even if one dares to join the profession, she doesn’t encourage others to follow suit. That’s because even in this era, women personnel are not awarded key postings or regular policing jobs. They are always considered as a secondary part of the force in comparison to men,” she added.
Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2017