Policewomen: Protection or corruption [Archives:2005/895/Front Page]

November 17 2005


It has become the norm to notice policewomen on active duty in various government organizations and authorities such as airports, immigration and other departments. This norm would've been a hypothetical situation considering the sensitive role of women in this conservative Yemeni society.

However, the mere existence of policewomen is considered a good adjustment for the society, for example in women prisons the role of policewomen is a lifesaver, for it has been the home of many sexual harassment that took place through the 1990s. On numerous occasions, female prisoners were brutally rapes or harassed by male prison guards. This in result caused many women to leave prison with infants and children, while they were virgins when they first stepped through prison doors. By using policewomen on duty, it surely decreases the number of sexual harassment cases in prisons. “This is very important for women in prison and women arrested and interrogated. This would be good for women in any situation where she is uncomfortable and it will be important for her safety”, said Ramzia Abbas Al-Eryani, chairwoman of the Yemen women's Union. Also it is clear that women are more understanding with regards to female personal feelings and lifestyles. Another positive sign is in airports, were women could be checked and searched by policewomen, not having to go through being touched by men.

But what many fear is that this issue has a tragic angle to it, as it could open doors for unlawful relationships between men and women working at the police academy. “I walked into prison along with my husband to visit a close relative to find that policewomen were not available in order to undertake the usual security search as they were outside the premises drinking tea and giggling with the policemen: I thought they were sent to work and serve their country here”, Said Samia Ali.

Many comments are heard around the abuse of the professional relationship by both male and female police officers. Citizens have started to see and realize the negative side to this: “I virtually saw a policeman helping a policewoman put on her belt. He was holding her from the waist and pressing his body onto hers. I don't see where society could be any safer”. Said Wael Ali, who went to visit his brother in prison: “The ironic thing about this is that she was laughing and enjoying it”.

There was a recent they call for the equality between men and women working in all fields in the United States; the Pentagon released a report concerning working women in the military saying that males continuously devaluate women in uniform and degrade their capabilities, hereby creating an abusive atmosphere towards women. Also, a whopping fifty percent of women in the United States military admitted to have been sexually harassed one way or another. not to mention those who choose to conceal such issues of harassment.

“They are making a big deal out of this issue. The places we need policewomen are very limited”, said Mohammed Ali, a Law school graduate. “Having a few hundred policewomen would sufficiently cover the need in the whole country”. He added.

From a religious point of view, a truly religious society there would be no need for policewomen, but as time changes and women are continuously being degraded and violated regularly, we are ought to have this situation in our society as it is the only solution at hand to end numerous cases of violence against women. Indeed, Policewomen can help women's rights through application of the law and protect them from such indecent men.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, 80% of males convicted of rape or sexual assault in the military or governmental institutions leave with an honorable discharge (meaning the rape conviction does not appear on their record), while only 2-3% are convicted and punished for the crime. If this is the situation in United States with the respectable laws and strong judiciary system, what chance do policewomen have in Yemen? Is this issue happening to our policewomen but is not being publicly exposed? The numerous rape cases that are regularly heard of at women detention centers and prisons makes you at least anticipate that this could be occurring in our country as well, where victims are scared to stand up for the oppression that they suffer from family backlash or losing respect and dignity in the society.

We as a country must realize that nothing is perfect, but striving for the sake of betterment is what drives prosperity. Real visible solutions must be a priority to end such violence against women for the sake of the people and the country, however, only time will tell if the right steps and correct measures were taken.