Women and Law Enforcement
(photo credit: http://kharis-lund.blogspot.com)
Many have considered law enforcement to be traditionally a “man’s world.” We treat women differently in law enforcement, and probably still do, whether it’s citizens or fellow police officers. Things are changing for the better in recent years, but old traditions die hard and things aren’t equal.
Law enforcement has to continue to be more accepting and understanding to women. According to Statistics Canada, women outnumber men by a small but significant margin. Women are the majority in Greater Vancouver. We must all strive to encourage women’s rights and freedom in law enforcement to best serve the majority of the public. One incident in Toronto caught my attention. Toronto Police advised private school girls not to wear skirts. A high ranking male police member issued a statement requesting private school girls not to wear skirts in public to avoid being harassed. Even though the advice had good intentions, it was not well received by its targeted audience. This statement offended many women because it was sexist in nature and it infringes on women’s rights and freedom. If men wearing shorts were a target for harassment, would the Toronto Police then issue a statement telling men not to wear shorts?
This Toronto incident is one example that law enforcement must do a better job at communicating, accepting, and understanding women’s needs. As we move forward in the future, law enforcement needs to recognize womens rights and freedom to be equal to men. It may be difficult because old traditions and habits die hard. We live in a different world today than we did 30 years ago. What was acceptable than may not be acceptable now.
When cases like this happens, it’s bad publicity for law enforcement. Some women might lose trust in law enforcement. They might feel that it’s an old boys club run by boys. They may not feel properly served.
In this case, a more appropriate police response would be to state the facts to the public. Tell the public that the suspect is a middle aged male, that every victim that has been targeted by the suspect has been teenage women wearing a skirt on public transportation. Let the public draw their own conclusions and let the female gender decide whether or not they wish to wear a skirt in public. The facts are indisputable and does not infringe on women’s rights and freedom.
Law enforcement in Greater Vancouver, and anywhere, can learn from Toronto Police. We must do better to communicate, accept, understand, and serve the majority of the Greater Vancouver public and minimize such controversies.
If you’re a woman working in law enforcement or a woman that feels you had your rights and freedom infringed upon by law enforcement, send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org