New recruits have given a slight push to female representation in the police force, going from 0.8 to one per cent, but hurdles in administration might keep their representation from becoming significant any time soon. Officials from the government, civil society and legal experts gathered here on Tuesday to discuss systemic loopholes that need redress. The interactive session had been arranged by the Ending Violence Against Women and Girls Alliance.
Interior Ministry Gender Crime Cell Deputy Director Mehreen Maqsood said the government departments were working under a lot of pressure. There were only two officers who, alongside other duties, were dealing with nationwide issues for women policing.
Maqsood said that the cell overlooks operations and works to improve conditions for women police. Moreover, it also gathers data from across the country for better analysis.
She said collection of classified data was an issue. “Several police departments do not even understand the law and do not know what the crime comes under,” she said, adding that various police departments from the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Sindh and Balochistan were sending back reports stating the number of VaW cases in their regions was “nil”.
ICT Superintendent of Police Nighat Haider said there was a need to increase the number of women in the force. “Though times are changing, we still need more women to opt for the police as a profession for greater change,” she said. Haider said violence cases are not reported as much as fraud and theft due to lack of awareness, freedom and confidence among women.
While viewing the issue from a legal lens, Islamabad High Court Bar Association President Mohsin Kayani said the role of the police in investigating such cases needs to be revised. He said specially-trained officers and doctors were needed to collect accurate data for cases.
The conviction rate in violence against women and girl cases is under five per cent. He suggested that a special prosecutor be appointed by the state and prosecutor units be established in police stations at district level that exclusively deal with issues such as rapes — crimes where physical evidence is often limited. He said the chemical forensic reports are issued after six-to-eight months, and sometimes are not even useful. He said that all this could only be made possible when such issues are prioritised.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2014.