The Express Tribune ISLAMABAD:
More than half of investigation officers quizzed across Pakistan, or 56%, believed women themselves are to blame for the violence perpetrated against them.
“If a majority of investigation officers hold this belief it is unlikely that they are neutral while investigation GBV,” concluded a study report “Police Reporting, Investigation Mechanisms, Political Interference and (Lastly) Safety and Security/Harassment of the Victims from Police Perspective” carried out by ALPH Consultants and Advocates.
Moreover constables, who make up about 87% of the Pakistani police force, do not have the authority to register even an FIR, which is the basis of all criminal cases.
Sadia Mumtaz, the Executive Director of ALPH, along with advocates Umer Farooq and Aftab Alam, the partners of the firm, launched the report recently at a consultative meeting. It was also submitted to National Commission on the Status of Women.
The report said that police women are very few and far in between and they are not provided training, funds and facilities to investigation Gender-Based Violence (GBV) cases.
“Police officials are definitely involved in harassing, torturing and abusing women in custody. Police use inappropriate investigation methods,” the report stated.
It said that more than half of the female victims of violence interviewed reported that their relatives were detained and pressured by the police. Furthermore, most police stations do not have separate lock-ups for women.
The situation is even worse in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, which does not have a single women police station and none of the police women there have ever been appointed as an investigation officer.
More than 62% of the investigation officers quizzed for the study acknowledged that they were not trained to investigate GBV cases. However, 66% of them recommended that women victims of violence should not visit police stations and resolve their complaints outside the police stations.
The study found that just 39% of the investigation officers were familiar with laws and regulations on GBV.
“Owing to their cultural beliefs and lack of legal knowledge, most investigation officers justify or support crimes of domestic violence,” stated the research report.
The study further said that only a tiny percentage of police have the authority or skills to carry out even the basic police functions. The policemen are divided into two tiers: the top tier consists of a cadre of well-educated officers who are trained at the national level. They are responsible for the management and supervision at the highest level.
“They lack operational experience as they enter directly into the tier rather than rising through the ranks and they make up less than 1% of the force,” said the report.
At the bottom are the constables who make up 87% of the force. In the middle are the investigators who make about 13% of the force.
Based on its study, the report while stressing the need for reforms in police recommended that the police initiatives like Community Policing should be evaluated independently. Executive Director Intermedia, Adnan Rehmat recommended that media should come forward to campaign for reforms in police by taking all stake holders on board. “It is not possible without involving media in the process,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2011.