Apathy mars working of women police station -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Apathy mars working of women police station

KARACHI – The only women police station in the city faces acute shortage of staff and necessary facilities to carry out its functions properly, a visit to the Women Police Station revealed.

The WPS was established by the first women prime minister of the country, Benazir Bhutto, in a beautiful new building constructed for the purpose, near the Governor’s House, in 1994, so that the women crime victims, who might feel shy to approach policemen, could be provided with some relief.

Since then, the police station has been shifted many a times by the department high-ups, as and when they needed its premises for some ‘important’ activity, which shows the apathy of authorities concerned towards women in general and particularly towards those in the force.

First, the entire WPS building was taken over and the policewomen were accommodated in just one room in it. Then, even that room was taken away and they were shifted to an old building next door, which too, after some time, was needed to establish police control room, so the women were returned to their original building.

Finally, the WPS was shifted to the old building of defunct Civil Lines Police Station, which had been closed down some time back. While many of the walls in the dilapidated building were hit by salinity, the ceilings of some of its rooms were leaking and the water supply and sewerage systems were not working properly, it was learnt.

Besides, as the police station has not been given any mobile van, its staff sometimes even has to ask the complainants, most of whom are very poor, to arrange for the transport for conducting field inquiries. Interestingly, the gate of the station is kept locked and first a visitor has to give the name of the person to be visited in the WPS.

The WPS did not get any funding for the stationary or even for the meals of the accused women, who were kept in the lock up, official sources revealed, adding that even it was short of staff as policewomen did not want to be posted there.

The sources said that even inspectors felt reluctant to be posted as SHOs at the WPS as the present SHO was a sub-inspector. The accused women kept in the WPS lock up, including those facing Zina charges, etc, were taken to other police stations for investigations, which were conducted by the male police staff, undermining the motive behind setting up a separate police station for women, the sources added.

Since its establishment, approximately only 235 FIRs had been registered at the WPS, the sources said, adding that the number was very small keeping in view the fact that it was the only WPS serving a city of over 10 million people, half of which were women, requiring a probe into the causes that why women did not approach the WPS for registering of their complaints.

Responding to Dawn queries, WPS SHO Sub-Inspector Syeda Ghazala said that she was short of staff and out of the sanctioned strength of 35, only 10 women, including a head constable and eight constables, besides her were serving there.

She said that a large number of women constables were available at the headquarters, who could be posted at the WPS, so that they could be deployed in case of an emergency.

She also said that in the absence of a mobile van, the WPS staff had to face difficulties in performing their duties in far off places as the jurisdiction of the WPS spread over the entire city.

To end the practice of investigation of women accused by male officers, she suggested that an investigation wing be created at the WPS, where investigations be carried out by the women staff only.

Syeda Ghazala, who had secured first position at the Shahdadpur Police Training School, said that she had worked almost her entire career on the welfare work side of the police and had earlier looked after the police’s blood bank, etc.

She said that approximately 10 FIRs had been registered at the WPS in the past few months since she had been posted there, which showed that women felt comparatively more confident now.

In the past three years, not a single FIR had been registered at the WPS, she added. She said if the facilities at the WPS were improved, proper relief could be provided to the women victims, an overwhelming majority of whom came form a very poor background.
Source: Dawn
Date:6/21/2004