Women police station yet to win women’s confidence
By S. Raza Hassan
KARACHI: An analysis of the cases registered at the lone women police station of the city suggests that the WPS has failed to gain the confidence of women as only a negligible number of cases are reported at it, it emerged on Monday.
Since its establishment in 1994 till 2009 as few as 345 FIRs (first information reports) had been registered at the WPS.
In 1995, the highest number of 44 FIRs in a year were registered at the WPS. Since then the number of reported cases has shrunk. For instance, the data showed that in 2003 only one case was reported at the women police station.
In 2008 and 2009, merely 21 and 27 cases, respectively, were registered at the WPS.
On the other hand, at any other police station the number of registered cases goes well into hundreds of FIRs even in the first six months of the year.
The figures are self-explanatory that how little success has been achieved in the concept behind the women police station, a senior police officer stated.
Citing some impediments, the officer said in most cases a woman complainant comes to the WPS to complain against a male accused. And interrogating the male accused by women police is a taboo in our society so the investigation of the case ultimately ends up at another police station, SSP Saddar Javed Akber Riaz told Dawn.
National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza had inaugurated on Nov 26, 2009 what was described by the authorities as the “first independent women police station” on Sharea Faisal next to the Saddar police station.
Actually, it was the same old WPS which was shifted to its present location for the fourth time by the authorities presumably for the re-inauguration.
The new location was more prominent and easily accessible unlike its pervious position, the authorities had said while justifying the relocation.
Originally, the first women police station was set up in the existing building of the Artillery police station during the first tenure of the PPP government led by the slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 1994.
The women police station was dislodged from its original building and was shifted to an old building next to the Artillery police station before being relocated for the third time in the Civil Lines police station.
Two other women police stations set up in the remaining two zones of police are waiting for a notification to become functional.
Following the re-inauguration of the women police station in November 2009, the incumbent inspector-general of the Sindh police ordered the setting up of a women police station in each zone. Since the women police station already existed in the south zone, new women police stations were set up in the east and west zones.
In the east zone, a women police station was set up outside the DIG-East office near the New Town police station.
Under the Women Protection Bill, except for cases of homicide or terrorism women suspects cannot be lodged in a police station, a senior police officer pointed out.
“Unfortunately women police stations could never take up the functions for which these police stations were set up. The idea behind establishment of separate women police stations was to encourage women to come forward and lodge complaints at the women police stations staffed by women police officers and at the same time maintain respect and dignity of women when accused of crimes,” DIG Abdul Khalique Shaikh said.
At present women police stations are nothing more than a detention facility for women. The cases are registered at the area police stations and when a woman suspected of involvement in a crime is arrested instead of detaining her at an ordinary police station she is brought to the nearest women police station, DIG Shaikh added.
To make it effective, the department needs young, educated and well trained women police who are also professionally committed. The women police have no investigation skills and depend on their male counterpart if an investigation has to be conducted, SSP Riaz said.
Former Chief of the Citizen Police Liaison Committee Sharfuddin Memon said the basic purpose of the women police station was to deal with all women related issues such as domestic violence, child custody cases, where women could have felt some sort of comfort. But the WPS is working as a shelter home where women victims or suspects are kept, the former chief of the CPLC said.
In a society where even men try to avoid going to the police station, a proper woman police station could have provided relief for women victims needing police help.
Probably a lack of awareness about the women police station could be an impediment in the proper working of the women police station, Mr Memon said, adding that an awareness campaign about the working of women police station could be a solution.
On the other hand, according to the statistics of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, on an average 25 to 30 cases per month pertaining to women issues, mainly of domestic violence and divorce, are reported at the commissions office, Abdul Hai, an official of the HRCP told Dawn.
The rape cases are marginally reported to the extent of 11 to 12 per cent while 90 per cent such cases are not reported, the official went on to add. He stressed the need for setting up more police stations, but with the condition that the senior officers up to the rank of SP should also be women instead of male officers to command the setup.
Drawing the attention towards the interior Sindh, Mr Hai said there is no women police station there from where women could approach for help.