An international aid agency has urged authorities in Afghanistan to increase the number of female personnel in the national police force to deter rising crime against women in Afghan society.
The aid agency said that Afghanistan had one of the highest rates of violence against women in the world. It added that domestic violence, forced marriage, sexual assault and incidents of honor killings were shockingly common in the country where women are permitted to talk only to female police officers.
In the report, Oxfam
officials acknowledged a gradual rise in the number of policewomen, citing several initiatives the Afghan government has launched over the past decade to employ women in Afghan police units.
Sharif Azizi works for the policy and advocacy branch of Oxfam. He said that despite the gradual progress in female staffing, women still made up only one percent of the 157,000-person police force.
“Out of [every] 10,000 women in the country, there is only one woman [police officer]. Even in some provinces of the country [such as Nuristan and Panjshir] there are not any women in the police force, so it is difficult for those women who are victims of violence to have better access to justice,” he said.
Azizi said that women, who joined the Afghan National Police, faced a variety of challenges both inside and outside the institution, such as violence, sexual harassment and lack of equal treatment, when compared to their male colleagues.
“One important reason is that there is a negative perception against women in the [Afghan] society that those who are joining the police force they are not good people or they are not good females. And another thing is that the working environment is not that much safer for the women to work there,” he said.
The report said that Afghan policewomen often lacked basic items, such as uniforms, and many received little or no training, and were rarely able to engage in core police functions such as investigating crimes or carrying out arrests.
The aid agency is calling for urgent action to recruit, train, retain and protect Afghan female police officers, saying this is critical for upholding the rights of Afghan women and girls.
In his response to the findings of Oxfam, interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi, admitted there were problems employing women as police.
He cited social barriers and little consideration among Afghans to encourage women to become part of the police force.
The spokesman added the Afghan government was determined to address these issues and employ more women officers.