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

Child marriages and poverty
Jul 30

Child marriages and poverty

In Saudi Arabia, the Shura Council has called for a ban on the marriage of girls below the age of 15 and strict conditions for girls marrying under the age of 18. The Council remarked on the phenomenon of girls dropping out of school and the economic burden child marriage places on girls and also on the health and...

Read More
The increasing prevalence of women-only services
Jul 16

The increasing prevalence of women-only services

In Dubai, a pink ambulance which exclusively serves women can now be seen driving around the Deira district responding to emergency calls. In June, the government launched the Women Responders unit, a pilot program which consists of four women in pink who remain on standby twelve hours a day, seven days a week....

Read More
Women and the Barriers to a STEM Career
Jul 09

Women and the Barriers to a STEM Career

The international FIRST Global Challenge robotics competition will see young teams from around the world face off on July 16th in Washington, D.C. The competition, however, will be missing a team: Team Afghanistan, which consists of six intelligent and resourceful girls, was denied visas after making not one but two...

Read More
No, women do not enjoy street harassment
Jul 02

No, women do not enjoy street harassment

Do women enjoy being harassed on the street? Do they enjoy having strange men whistle or call out inappropriate comments about their physical appearance while they are minding their own business? Despite the fact that street harassment is a form of sexual harassment, some men believe that women enjoy being...

Read More
The invisible women
Jun 25

The invisible women

They are called the “Invisible Women,” and yet there are an estimated 258.5 million widows around the world.  According to the Loomba Foundation’s World Widows Report, the number of widows increased 9 percent between 2010 and 2015 thanks to a rise in disease and conflict. Yet despite the efforts...

Read More
Woman, constantly interrupted
Jun 18

Woman, constantly interrupted

Permission to speak? It didn’t seem to be the case for U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, who was interrupted, mid-question, by a man at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing this past Tuesday.  This was the second time in two weeks that Ms. Harris was interrupted at a high-level hearing, and it follows comments...

Read More