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The system is encouraging women to help maintain law and order in the province by allowing them to formally file complaints to female police officers, officials say.
By Javed Aziz Khan
SWABI, Pakistan – Women in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) are benefitting from police counters staffed by women, for women, officials told Central Asia Online.
Fifty-six police stations throughout the province will have the women's desks, KP government spokesman Riaz Ahmad announced July 26. In Peshawar, they have been established at Hayatabad, West Cantonment, Chamkani and C Division police stations.
"The number [of desks] will be increased in the next phase so that women can feel good in front of the female staff at any police station," KP Inspector General of Police Ihsan Ghani said.
Already 116 female police have been deployed to the desks at police stations and major hospitals in Mardan, Swabi, Swat and Abbottabad. Most of those staffing the positions are educated and experienced policewomen who have expressed the desire for more responsibility.
"We have some of the best shooters, excellent investigators and brave commanders," one female police officer told Central Asia Online.
"We have the skills and the training," she said. "We just need an opportunity to prove ourselves."
Strong start for new programme
"Women avoid going to police stations due to the local culture," Peshawar-based female teacher Atiqa Siddiq explained. "Even educated women were hesitant to visit the police station even when it was direly needed."
"The female counters will provide them a friendly environment," she added.
The KP police have already noticed a difference.
"Most of the women used to hesitate when going to any police station," Afshan, a female police officer at the rural Kalu Khan Police Station in Swabi District, told Central Asia Online. "Now they know about the female counters … and they are coming to lodge complaints."
Despite the rapid arrival of positive results, much has to be done.
"We are planning to improve the culture at the police station so that male and female complainants have no hesitations to lodging their complaints," Ghani said, noting that he ordered police stations to respect the desks and to make sure they were provided with sufficient supplies.
Strong start for new programme
The new counters seem to be working as planned, officials say.
The Swabi District police station has received three complaints by women so far, reports indicate. Lahore Police Station has registered five cases, already charging the accused under the relevant section of law. At the Topi Police Station, women have filed six complaints. And at Kalu Khan Police Station, four cases have been lodged.
The counters are helping those in need, Sub Inspector Amir Hamza, the individual in charge of the complaint cell in Swabi District, told Central Asia Online, recalling a recent success story. "One woman lodged a complaint in the Topi Police Station against her spouse, who had taken away her son," he said. "Police returned the boy to his mother."
In another case – one that Afshan worked on at her Kalu Khan-based desk – she was able to help a woman in her late 20s whose husband had allegedly been beating her.
A woman identified only as Gulnaz, from Dagai village near Swabi District, came and said, "My spouse beats me, harasses me regularly, and levels all kinds of accusations that are never true," Ashfan recounted.
Afshan filed a report, prompting police to go to Gulnaz's village and bring her husband to the police station.
"He apologised and promised in front of the police officers that he would never beat her again," Afshan said.
"I just wanted to live peacefully in my home," Gulnaz told Central Asia Online, in explaining why she felt compelled to go to police. "The response of the police was prompt and fruitful."