Pakistani Rizwana Hameed made history last month when she became the first woman chief of a male police station in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province.
The area is known for its conservative cultural and religious traditions. Women are rarely even permitted outside their homes in the area.
Hameed has been a member of the provincial police force for 15 years. She has taken part in many crime investigations. She also has carried out raids on suspected terrorist bases.
She says being the first woman officer to supervise a male police station in the area carries a lot of pressure.
“It’s a difficult job for me,” she says.
However, Hameed says she is enjoying the job and she says women can do everything men can do and more.
“If men are asked to take on household responsibilities and babysitting, for the whole day, I don’t think they can handle them. Whereas women can easily handle professional responsibilities outside of the home also,” she said.
Women in the surrounding area have not been willing to enter the police station with complaints. They do not want to discuss them openly with male police officers, says Hameed.
She says the provincial capital city, Peshawar, is a “closed society” where women mainly stay at home.
“Even if they are subjected to domestic violence they endure it and avoid publicly talking about it,” she says.
But Hameed says her presence is “encouraging them to bring problems to the police station and their number is growing by the day.”
This success has increased the willingness of local women to go to the police.
Hameed says, “When their problems are solved they take back a message of satisfaction to their communities, which is emboldening other women to visit the police station.”
Pashtun families in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province have traditionally not supported women joining the police force. About 10 percent of police are women. But officials say examples of women police in the media are changing the way people think.
Hameed says her new job makes family life a little difficult, but she has the support of her husband and other family members.
The provincial police department also is working to get women from women’s schools to join the force. Hameed says she believes more women on the force will reduce domestic violence and other crimes against women.
I’m Caty Weaver.
Ayaz Gul reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
handle – v. deal with
complaint – n. making a statement of dissatisfaction
domestic – adj. related to matters of the home
endure – v. to deal with or accept something (difficult) for a long time
emboldening – v. to make someone more likely to do something or take action
encouraging – adj. to be supportive of
personnel – n. people who work for a company, organization or government
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