October 6, 2023
Reports have emerged of complaint desks that cater exclusively to women and the transgender community have been non-functional in various parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially Peshawar, for the past one year.
The province’s first women police reporting centers were established in July 2013 in Swat and Swabi. In the ten years since, a total of 60 such centers have been set up across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the purpose of facilitating local women and transgender people. However, complainants say that these desks are not working as intended.
“[the government] said that now that we have our own desks, our voices will be heard. It is nothing like that. They gave us hope and then left,” says Jamila, a transgender woman. “I have a dispute with the landlord here as he has yet to return my advance payment. For the past six months, I’ve gone from one SHO to the next, there is no one to hear me out.”
On the other hand, female front desk officers (FDO) say that they are operating with very little facilities at hand. Reporting center personnel lack even mobile phones for communication and police vehicles for travel. Furthermore, they claim that they are often on duty during polio campaigns and raids, and are therefore unable to tend to their desks.
“Oftentimes when we are called for emergency duties, we have to leave our desks,” explains Safia, a police constable and FDO.
“There are very few women in the force, and we are expected to perform a disproportionate number of duties.”
According to the police, there are five reporting desks in Peshawar, Charsadda and Swabi each, and six in Nowshera and Mardan each, while Peshawar has two women police stations. Despite the low percentage of female personnel, they say that the reporting centers are fully functional and departmental action is taken against FDOs not present at their desk.
“I personally check women desks in the Cantonment jurisdiction. We initiated a departmental inquiry against the DSP of one of my stations where a desk was non-operational,” Superintendent of Police Peshawar Cantt Waqas Rafiq stated during a media briefing. “We facilitate women and transgender people at these desks. However, due to the sensitive nature and impact involved in the national polio eradication campaign, we tend to reprioritize for a few days. But this is not on a permanent basis.”