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

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
Young girls and the effects of harassment
Dec 25

Young girls and the effects of harassment

Two shocking studies have been released that highlight the prevalence of sexual harassment. And while the unfortunate ubiquity of sexual—and especially street harassment—is nothing new, the two different studies highlight another unsettling fact: when it comes to harassment, age is nothing but a number. A...

Read More
Beauty salon talk turns serious
Dec 18

Beauty salon talk turns serious

A trip to the salon may seem like an unlikely place to discuss domestic violence (DV). Yet in the United States, the state of Illinois is aiming to put salons at the forefront of helping victims of abuse. Starting in January 2017, the amended Barber, Cosmetology, Esthetics, Hair Braiding, and Nail Technology Act...

Read More
Women’s crisis advocacy training
Dec 11

Women’s crisis advocacy training

Bahrain-based Women’s Crisis Care International (WCCI) celebrated a new milestone last week: its third advocate-training program.  On December 3rd, 31 amazing women became certified crisis advocates after attending a 40-hour training over the course of three days. I was one of these women, and I cannot...

Read More
Stop Telling Women to Hide Their Bruises
Dec 04

Stop Telling Women to Hide Their Bruises

The Moroccan daily ladies show  Sabahiyat featured a demonstration recently on how to use make-up. However, this was no normal make-up tutorial, like the kind you see on Youtube. The program decided to show women the makeup they could use to cover the bruises on their face from domestic violence as a way to mark...

Read More