AS women’s perceived role in Pakistani society changes — and it is changing, albeit slowly — it is the state’s task to keep up by ensuring that legislative and administrative frameworks continue to evolve. The country has in recent years seen several progressive pieces of legislation aimed at protecting women. But this is just one half of the task; the other is implementing the law, in which a pivotal role is played by the police force which is an aggrieved party’s first point of call. Unfortunately, this area of operations has not seen the required degree of evolution, with the police continuing to be perceived as chauvinistic, male-dominated and unsympathetic to women’s concerns. This evolution, as pointed out by speakers at a workshop held in Mingora on Thursday, requires a drastic increase in the number of women employed in the force. The workshop brought up the point that the presence of women in police stations would not just turn around the image of the law enforcers it would also encourage women to report crimes and transgressions.
Without doubt, increasing the number of policewomen will bring only benefit. And a precedent has already been set by the KP police department, which with seven ‘model’ police stations across the province has established women’s desks staffed by female police officers. These have seen appreciable success, with a sharp increase in the number of women coming forward to report their complaints and the happy resolution of several cases. These policewomen have handled disputes ranging from domestic violence to land grabbing; it appears that women complainants display greater trust in them when reporting crimes such as rape or harassment. Given its effectiveness, this model should be replicated across the country as quickly as possible. Enforcement of the law is essential to deterring criminality, while strong state forums are needed to encourage victims to come forward with their grievances. Where anti-women crimes are concerned, the greater involvement of policewomen can only help.