Distinction: Turning crime den into centre of solace

Published: November 22, 2011
DSP Shehzadi Gulfam becomes the first woman to win the UN award.

DSP Shehzadi Gulfam becomes the first woman to win the UN award.


She established the first friendly investigation room for women and children at the police station in the post-conflict Timor-Leste. Earlier the room was infamous for being used as a centre of crime and violence against women and children.

In the outcome of applying her ideas, the crime against women were reported and more women came forward to join police force.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Shehzadi Gulfam from Lahore set an example, emerged as a role model and source of inspiration for many women in Timor-Leste, where she is serving as the United Nation Police (UNPOL) Team Leader. She was recognised for her distinction at the second International Islamic Women Police conference held here on Monday.

She was given the first ever United Nations International Female Police Peacekeepers Award 2011 for her initiative in rehabilitating the devastated post-conflict social stratum and her leadership qualities. She was the first woman in the world to receive this award, after a tough screening process in August.

“The situation there were tough; the violence against women was acute; the women were scared; and there were social taboos, we had to fight”, Gulfam said. “I convinced them (local women of Timor) to be courageous and come forward to help other women,” she said with a smile on her face, while talking to The Express Tribune.

Why could she or any other woman police officer, for that matter, not do the same in Pakistan?

“In Pakistan, there are only 18 women police stations exclusively for women,” said Gender Responsive Policing (GRP) Principal Adviser Dr Khola Iram. “However, the idea of exclusive women police stations does not work for operational reasons. The need for integrated police stations was realised early and work on it was underway.”

Khola said there are only nine police stations in the country where separate women desks are established. “Why can we not have one or two rooms especially for women complainants in the same police station building run by female police officers?” asked the award-winning police officer. A segregated police station could not cater to the needs of women of the whole city, she added.

Gulfam, mother of a son, said that given the right conditions, appropriate funds and opportunity to work, the Pakistani women police officers were capable of delivering on their jobs better than many others. She said she smoothly managed her job without affecting her family life. A graduate from Queen Mary, she was the first Pakistani women police officer to join UNPOL in 1997 Bosnia. She was sent to Kosovo next year. “There I encouraged women to join police service and I am proud to know that there are a large number of Muslim police officers in Kosovo today,” said Gulfam.

Secretary Interior, Siddiq Akbar, National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza and others, who attended the conference vowed to enhance women’s participation in police and to improve their working conditions.

The four-day conference is being attended by delegates from more than 15 countries including 10 Muslim states and officials from different embassies, UN and representatives of police. The conference is being hosted by the Interior Ministry of Pakistan in collaboration with the Gender Responsive Policing (GRP) funded by the foreign office of Germany.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2011.

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