MoI denies female police sexually harassed
KABUL (PAN): The Ministry of Interior (MoI) on Saturday asked a US-based human rights group to produce evidence in support of its claim that Afghan policewomen were being sexually harassed by their men counterparts in police stations.
In a statement on Thursday, Human Right Watch (HRW) said female Afghan police officers were routinely enduring sexually harassment from male colleagues.
“Workplace sexual harassment is a serious problem in the public and private sectors in Afghanistan, and female police officers are frequently the targets of harassment and assault,” the HRW statement said.
“In recent years, there have been numerous media reports of rape of female police officers by male colleagues,” it added.
But MoI spokesman Sadiq Siddique rejected the claims as unacceptable, saying such false allegations could keep other females from joining the force.
Saddique said female police officers might have encountered problems in terms of a lack of separate toilets, dressing rooms, but their sexual harassment was completely baseless.
He said such reports could undermine efforts at recruiting females in the police force, saying the number of females serving in security organs had reached 2,200.
The official said MoI would officially ask the HRW to provide credible documents in support of its claims, saying it was government's responsibility to address problems facing policewomen.
He said the HRW had issued its statement without knowing version of the ministry concerned, adding media outlets were in hurry to publish the report.
In particular, HRW said more secure bathrooms were needed to keep women officers from being attacked.
“Those facilities that women do have access to often have peepholes or doors, which don’t lock," HRW said, quoting an international advisor. "Women have to go [to the toilets] in pairs. Toilets are a site of harassment."
In addition, three orders since last year to install safe and separate facilities in police stations for female officers have not been implemented despite government promises.
“The Afghan government’s failure to provide female police officers with safe, secure facilities makes them more vulnerable to abuse,” Brad Adams, HRW’s Asia director, said in a statement. “This is not just about toilets. It’s about the government’s recognition that women have a crucial role to play in law enforcement in Afghanistan.”
“Harassment and abuse is an everyday experience for many Afghan women,” Adams said in the statement. “Without the consistent presence of female police officers across the country, legal protections for women will remain an unfulfilled promise.”
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