Breaking traditions: A woman in male territory at Risala police station

ASI Naseem Malik is the fourth woman to be inducted at a male police station in recent months.

Photo Athar Khan/rabia Ali July 31, 2014

KARACHI: After years of searching women visitors and rummaging through their bags while doing security duty at government buildings, ASI Naseem Malik is now ready to lead.

The fourth woman officer to be inducted at male police stations in recent months in the city, Malik serves as a head muharrir at the Risala police station.

Clad in her grey uniform, Malik sat in a middle-sized room when an officer came in and said ‘salam’. “Han beta,” she replied, referring to him as her son. She seemed comfortable at her new job. “I am very happy here,” she admitted. “The staff welcomed me like one of their own.”

The officer who had just entered the office smiled as well. “They say the SHO is the father of the police station and the head muharrir is the mother,” he said. “She is surely one.”

Malik belongs to a small village in Gujrat, where most men in her family are working for the armed or the naval forces. “The first question I asked my relatives about women officers was if they shoot guns. When they replied yes, I knew I just had to be a police officer.”

She has 25 years experience in the police force under her belt. She joined in 1989 when there were only a few females in the department. “I was the youngest female officer to join at 18 years,” she said.

She initially worked at the Sindh Assembly and Police Headquarters. When the first police station for women started in 1994, she was transferred there to fill in the roznamcha. But being only a Matric-passed officer was a hurdle, so she went on to do her Intermediate studies privately. She has also done a few courses as she climbed the ladder.

For nine years, she served at the Governor House. “VVIP duties are sensitive and dangerous,” she said. “The more influential and powerful a person is, the riskier the security duty and there are a lot more police officers and guards too.”

For the last year and a half, she was serving at the Women’s Police Station as head muharrir. Two weeks ago, she received a call from a high-ranking official asking her to come and meet Abdul Khaliq Sheikh. The DIG South told her that she was now deployed as head muharrir at Risala police station.

The head muharrir is a person known as the protector of the police station. At her new office, Malik is doing everything from replying to letters and applications, keeping a check on police officers, deploying them on duties and taking care of case property and the maal khana. The area within her jurisdiction has a lot of vehicle snatching and Malik feels that her staff of only 38 officers is very small.

Malik appears to be tough looking and for her eight-year-old son, she is nothing short of a superwoman as her husband lives in Rahim Yar Khan. Since she works round-the-clock, Malik wished there was some facility for single parents like her to leave their children during duty hours.

As soon as she is done reading an application and signing it, she called her son to make sure he was safe at home. “Son, you are a brave child of a police officer. Don’t open the taps and don’t light the stove,” she instructed.

She put the phone down and smiled. “It is very tough to manage both the house and this work, but my love for police work and my love for my child keeps me strong. It always makes things work out.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2014.

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