IN a heartening development, a second female police officer has been appointed as DPO in Attock, weeks after the district saw the appointment of its first woman SHO. Ammara Athar was appointed to the DPO position by Punjab Police in its effort to increase women representation in the force including in decision-making positions. Ms Athar is a deserving candidate, having served as SSP in Multan. Earlier, she made history when she became the first female DPO in Punjab, serving in Bahawalnagar and then in Sargodha.
It is indeed a commendable effort, especially because out of all provinces Punjab has marked the highest number of crimes against women. It is critical to have women decision-makers in positions of authority — especially the police force — where crimes against women are being investigated. Women police officers are skilful at tackling violent crimes against other women, and can outperform their male counterparts when it comes to community policing. Many male police officers are either shy or indifferent when it comes to engaging with female citizens — which is a major drawback given women make up half the population. Not only can women police officers educate their peers about the need for sensitivity and privacy around certain crimes, their own life experiences can bring meaningful change in the processes that exist to gather evidence and report criminal offences. Pakistan’s convictions in rape cases are still very low, largely because evidence collection and the recording of testimonies is poor. Senior women police officers can bring a transformative change in this regard, perhaps also encouraging women to report cases of abuse. Ms Athar’s appointment should inspire other provinces to follow suit. The success of women like Ms Athar proves that the outdated, regressive stereotypes which dictate that women cannot be part of a workforce that demands ‘aggressive’ work can be shattered. The government ought to support the trend by making more key appointments open to the best female officers.