IT is encouraging to see more employment avenues opening up for women in Pakistan, with an increasing number of public institutions making a conscious effort to bring them on board. According to a report in this paper yesterday, the Pakistan Railways police is planning to hire more women station house officers at several major train stations, particularly in Karachi. The objective is to ensure that female passengers are assured of a pleasant, safe and secure journey. Positive feedback from passengers regarding the first ever woman SHO appointed in Lahore at the Mughalpura station has prompted PR to recruit more women for the post across the country. Some other measures, such as the installation of cameras on the trains and a mobile phone app, have also been announced so that outlaws on board can be apprehended. According to a PR police spokesperson, the criminal record information of all law-enforcement agencies has been incorporated with the e-police post app, thereby making for a more integrated system.
It may be recalled that a few months ago, a young woman travelling alone was gang-raped on a Karachi-bound train — a shocking incident that highlighted how extremely unsafe is the public transport system in Pakistan for lone female travellers. The question to be asked is never why a woman was travelling alone, but rather, what the government must do to ensure a secure environment on public transport. The recent move by the PR is thus encouraging. In a conservative society where the public space is seen as belonging to men by right — which renders females venturing outside the home even more vulnerable — the government must take proactive steps to increase women’s visibility in a range of professions seen generally as male domains, such as the police. Also, with the introduction of metro bus systems along modern lines and with separate compartments for women, travel has become more economical and perceptibly widened the avenues for female employment and education. Such a trend can only bode well for a society’s progress.
Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2022