Policewomen play an essential role in protecting citizens
08-Jan-2017


With a nod to gender equality, the Royal Oman Police have started 2017 by appointing the first female officer to head an Omani police station. Proving that patience and perseverence really do pay off—she joined the police force in 1990 and has since occupied a number of prominent posts—Lieutenant Colonel Shaikhah Bint Ashour Al Hambasiyah now heads a police station in the capital city of Muscat.

In the Gulf region, the number of female police officers has been increasing in recent years (although Saudi Arabia still does not permit female officers). Bahrain was the first Gulf nation to allow women to join the police: the Bahraini Women’s Police Force was established in 1970 with two female officers and has since expanded. Kuwait’s first female class of police officers graduated in 2009. In 2003 an all-female squadron of 107 women graduated from Qatar’s police academy for the first time. Most surprising is the case of the United Arab Emirates. The country saw its first batch of female police officers back in 1978 in Abu Dhabi; today, there are over 3,000 women on the Abu Dhabi police force alone. Dubai counts over 1,500 policewomen, who are often seen driving around in Ferraris.

Around the world, women face resistance in joining the police from their families and society as well as their fellow policemen, who may view them with skepticism or question their competence. Being a police officer is often deemed “unsuitable” as it takes women away from their families and forces them to interact with strange men. There is also the possibility that the public might also not take a female officer seriously.

Yet policewomen play an important role in protecting citizens. Studies in the U.S—where police officers have been under fire for using excessive force—have found that female cops fire their weapons far less than men and are less likely to use physical force when arresting someone. They are often better at communication, de-escalating situations, and building trust. It is also essential to have female officers from a cultural standpoint. In some cultures women may only feel comfortable talking to a female officer. It also may be inappropriate, for example, for a male police officer to search a woman under arrest.

Although men still overwhelmingly dominate the profession, there is a clearly a need for female officers and, more importantly, a good reason to hire them. A woman in uniform gives back to her community, makes a difference and sets an example for women’s empowerment.


Related Articles

Reserved seating
Feb 19

Reserved seating

Is it possible to progress and at the same time go backwards? This question crossed my mind when I read that Air India recently launched women-only seats on its domestic flights. In a bid to make air travel more comfortable for female passengers, the company is now offering women flying solo the option to choose one...

Read More
Keeping families safe
Feb 12

Keeping families safe

This week Russia and Ireland debated the criminalization of domestic violence in their respective legislation. Each country proposed laws that will have profound affects on both women and children who are experiencing family abuse. However, the laws could not have more different premises and conclusions. They...

Read More
World Hijab Day inspires compassion, dialogue
Feb 05

World Hijab Day inspires compassion, dialogue

In recognition of the millions of Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab, women of all faiths came together February 1st to tie one on for World Hijab Day. The annual celebration is “an open invitation to both Muslims and non-Muslims to experience the hijab for a day,” and since its inception has spread...

Read More
The women’s march on Washington
Jan 29

The women’s march on Washington

4.8 million feminists, 673 cities and 7 continents. The morning of January 21st, women, children and men came together across the globe to stand in solidary for gender equality in what is known as the “Women’s Marches.”  The Women’s March on Washington, which was the inspiration for...

Read More
Making Feminism a Priority at the United Nations
Jan 22

Making Feminism a Priority at the United Nations

“Where are the women? Are they represented? Are they around the table?” Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom recently asked during a visit to the United Nations. Sweden has just started its 2-year term on the UN Security Council, and it is determined to make sure that women are involved in future...

Read More
2017 the Year for Saudi women
Jan 15

2017 the Year for Saudi women

Three women wearing niqabs get into the back of the SUV. A few seconds later, their driver gets in the front seat: a round-faced, smiling little boy. The music starts, and throughout the video clip, which is under 3 minutes, the women sing, dance, play basketball and ride scooters down the street—all things they...

Read More