05/22/2009, 00.00
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The first time in history: a woman is chief officer of police

by William Gomes
Her name is Hosne Ara Begum and she has been in the police force since 1981. Human rights activist Khushi Kabir: A very important fact for a chauvinist and Islamic society such as Bangladesh.

Dhaka (Asia News) – For the first time in the history of Bangladesh a woman is chief of a police division.  Hosne Ara Begum has been appointed chief officer to a division in the capital Dhaka, as of May 18th.  She started her career with the Bangladesh police in 1981 and has worked in many regions of Bangladesh, in different police jurisdictions and departments, including the Intelligence Branch of the Bangladesh police.

Women first entered the country’s police force in 1974.  Then there were only 14, now  there are 1,937, and among them 1,331 police constables. Contacted by AsiaNews, Begun said she is “really lucky to be the first female Office-in-Charge and to be a positive part of history in Bangladesh. I have been given the chance to prove my commitment to the nation once more”.

For Khushi Kabir, a prominent human rights activist, Begun’s appointment is an important sign for discrimination against women.   “We have experienced in the past that, under police custody, women were being raped by police officers themselves” states Kabir, affirming that even among the police there is “impunity after violating the law or human rights”, particularly the rights of women.

A report of the local human rights organization Odhikar says that 5,816 women and children were raped between 2001 and 2007. Among the victims, 636 women were killed and 69 committed suicide after being raped. Also, 1,024 women were victims of acid burns and 1,884 were subjected to dowry-related violence. Of those, 1,241 were killed, 479 were tortured, 61 sustained acid injuries, and 95 committed suicide.

Kabir says “the appointment of the first female OC in the Bangladesh police force is a good sign of positive change for a chauvinist and Islamic society such as Bangladesh”. The human rights activist adds that “the government should take the initiative to adequately educate the population on the rights of citizens and the responsibilities of the police through media and all other available means”.


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