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Islamabad women police officials face sexual abuse from colleagues

Letter written five years back claims they had to put up with harassment, sexual abuse to avoid wrath of high-ups

Just a day after the mysterious death of a lady constable, Iqra, in the federal capital, a five-year-old letter written by lady police constables and employees of Islamabad Police headquarters has surfaced, asking their high-ups to take notice of sexual abuse and harassment they were facing.

“Some Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSPs), readers and operators ‘played’ with the life and honour of lady police constables at the police headquarters in Islamabad,” read the letter written by the lady police constables to the IGP, Islamabad, back in 2018, a copy of which is available with Minute Mirror. The letter carries the signature of the Inspector General of Police, Islamabad, who had marked it to the relevant officers, directing them to hold an inquiry into the matter within seven days.

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The letter titled “Justice for Hawa ki Beti” was addressed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Chief Justice Islamabad High Court, Interior Minister, Islamabad, Chief Commissioner and Inspector General of Police Islamabad. In their letter, the lady constables said that their honour was not safe and they had to put up with harassment and sexual abuse to avoid the wrath of their high-ups at the headquarters.

“We are doing a job at the headquarters and have left our homes and families for our duties. After leaving our homes and families behind, it is now the duty of the senior police officers to ensure our security and protection,” the letter further said. “But, here the situation is quite different as they have to face several ‘dogs’ daily,” wrote the lady police constables, crying for justice.

They also revealed that they had videos and pictures of “sexual abuse” with them which they would only WhatsApp [produce] to the Chief Justice of Pakistan. The lady police constables complained about the deteriorating environment and unprofessional attitude of the police officers and officials deputed at the headquarters in the federal capital, raising serious questions over the performance of the police regarding the provision of security and protection to the citizens.

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“Readers of the senior police officers and their operators often indicate a special place in the headquarters to go for the redressal of their grievances, if any,” the women constables wrote. They also quoted them as saying that they did not need to appear before the senior officers to give explanations regarding their duties.

“In your headquarters, the DSPs, their readers and operators have their separate rooms where we have to explain our ‘performance’ by presenting ourselves to them,” read the letter. It was the case from the operators to the readers, they said, adding that it was the reason they [readers and operators] were seen searching separate rooms for themselves.

The lady constables also warned the high-ups that prompt action was not taken on their letter they could go to the media and reveal everything, saying that they had ‘certain’ videos and pictures in their WhatsApp. They demanded the IGP and relevant authorities to appoint a special lady officer for them as well as a lady reader to deal with them.

When MinuteMirror approached Islamabad Police, its spokesman said this is an old letter and inquiry was held over it, and later the police officials involved were suspended. He further said that IGP Islamabad Ahsan Younis had arranged special open courts for police officials to listen to their problems. Amna Baig is serving as SP Headquarters nowadays and a female DSP is also appointed in police headquarters of the federal capital, he added
While answering a question about readers and operators, he said that they are male officials but if they harass and blackmail any of the female constables they can approach the IGP office. Talking to MinuteMirror, Anti-Riot Force (ARF) lady constables said the letter was correct and they faced a similar situation at their headquarters in Lahore.

“There are categories of harassment at every level within the police department. They all have to remain in liaison with operators and readers of their bosses if they want to remain protected from everyday punishments and if they ignore their offers they have to bear another level of harassment and punishment from police high-ups,” said a lady police constable, on the condition of anonymity.

Many female officers, she said, were there in departments ranked from constables to DIGs but the department always appointed male officers to supervise them. “We silently and indirectly begged a lot of times to the high-ups but all in vain,” she added. On Friday, Constable Iqra died, but her death is a mystery, and the police have been giving different statements, which raised many questions.

At one stage, police said that Iqra died of cardiac arrest, that she consumed poisonous pills, and later changed their stance and claimed that she was found dead at the SP’s home. The doctors, on the other hand, said that SP Arif Shah brought the lady constable to the hospital and told them she was his “niece”. In an informal talk with the reporters, SP Traffic Arif Shah said Iqra went to the police headquarters and then to the bank. He said she came to his home and started vomiting.

“When she vomited a second time, I took her to Polyclinic Hospital where doctors tried to save her life for about 45 minutes,” said Shah, adding that he informed Iqra’s parents about her condition while leaving for the hospital. He claimed she used to call him ‘baba’ and she was like a daughter to him and he was not aware if she was upset or facing any problem.

Islamabad Inspector General of Police Ahsan Younis took notice of the incident and formed an inquiry committee under the supervision of DIG operations, with directions to submit a report. He also took note of details such as Iqra’s last duties and asked why she consumed pesticides. Later, Islamabad Police lodged an FIR against the mysterious death of Iqra and an investigation is underway.

A lady police constable, Rose Marry, who was serving in Rahim Yar Khan committed suicide a week ago. Sources said she ended her life just because her male boss refused her to go on leave. However, Rahim Yar Khan DPO Ali Zia said her death should not be linked with the police department as it was her personal matter with her husband.

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