LAHORE: Punjab, the most populous province, has a female population of around 48%. According to the latest census, the population of Punjab has reached 120 million, with more than 50 million women.
The strength of the police force responsible for security and peace is close to 205,000. With regards to the number of female police personnel, it can be said that their strength is ‘a needle in a haystack.’
Only about 4,500 police officers in Punjab are female. In terms of ratio, there is only one female police official for every 12,200 women in the province. So far this year, the number of cases registered at police stations of 36 districts in the province has exceeded 350,000. Out of these cases, an estimated 60% involve at least one female suspect, either directly or indirectly.
These cases include various counts of theft, robbery, snatching, domestic disputes and others. The number of female police officers is insufficient to investigate all the cases or to carry out the arrest of women suspects.
It is due to this reason that whenever the police raid the house of an accused, and do not have female officials accompanying them, the male officials are viewed to be violating the sanctity of female residents in homes.
For the investigation of female criminals, male investigation officers are usually the ones on duty, which leads to the investigation process being flawed and the accused is often not prosecuted, as should be the case.
Punjab Welfare DIG Shariq Kamal confirmed to The Express Tribune that there is a shortage of female police personnel in Punjab. “It is impossible to set up a separate police station in every district since there is a shortage of female staff.”
He added that in order to overcome the issue, a district police officer, a female SP, a female ASP or at least a female police inspector should be deployed. “The female personnel have been deployed so that when women complainants visit the DPO, they will find a police officer to help them.”
Referring to investigation, the welfare DIG highlighted that cases of female suspects are handled by women police officials.
“While the police stations in the provincial capital have most of the police officers stationed at the front desk for complainants, it is true that Punjab Police also lacks female police personnel for security duty.”
This is why during Muharramul Haram, the female police constables are not deployed, he added. “Instead, female traffic wardens are deployed to search female participants. Psychiatrist Dr Anum Fatima said that when female police officials interrogate female suspect, the police system will benefit because it builds the overall reputation for the force. “Having female police officials further helps women interrogators to study cases in each domain.”
Male police officials interrogating female suspects can result in a biased investigation and this can cause psychological harm to the female suspect, she added.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2019.