When Khalida Bibi, a long-term resident of Mohmand District now residing in Peshawar, asked her brothers for a share in the inheritance money they received by selling off their ancestral land, she was shunned. What perturbed her even more was the lack of a redressal mechanism.
Khalida, who did not share her real name with the Express Tribune, was of the view that had there been women on the local police force, they would have understood her problem or even related to it. “In Mohmand, not only is the police force all men, but women are actively discouraged from visiting the police with their grievances,” a visibly torn Khalida informed.
Numbers obtained by the Express Tribune from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Police also highlight the issue that Khalida pointed out. The provincial police force has 117,000 male officers and only 1,105 female officers – less than 1 percent of the total number of police officials.
In the merged tribal districts, formerly referred to as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), where Mohmand District is located, the male-to-female police officer ratio is even worse. Out of 25,879 total personnel, only 30 are women – less than 0.5 percent.
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A further breakdown of the data confirms Khalida’s assertions vis-a-vis the lack of women in her home district and the resultant lack of female complainants. Mohmand District, with a population of more than 550,000 – nearly 50 percent of which is women – has a total of 6 female police officers.
Nevertheless, the lack of female police officers is not a problem exclusive to only Mohmand District in the merged districts. Kurram District, with a population of more than 750,000, only has 14 female officers; North Waziristan, where the headcount is above 690,000, has 6 female personnel; South Waziristan, with a population of more than 880,000, has only 1 female officer.
The remainder of the merged districts, including Bajaur, Khyber, and Orakzai, with a combined population of more than 2.8 million people, do not have any female police officers.
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When inquired about the stark female representation in the provincial police force, Assistant Inspector General Police on Gender Equality, Anila Naz, acknowledged the issue.
“If there are no women police officers, women will be reluctant to report the injustices done to them. The K-P Police has relaxed the rules and regulations now to attract more female personnel into the force, especially in the merged districts,” said Anila.
Assistant IG Police on Integrated Districts, Dr. Quraish Khan, also gave a similar reassurance to the Express Tribune. “We are increasing the number of women-only police desks all over the province, and hopefully that will attract more female complainants.” However, when pressed for a timeline on increasing gender representation in the police force, Dr. Quraish did not give one.