Sensitive policing practices handling women and vulnerable groups
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Sensitive Policing Practices; Handling Women and Vulnerable Groups. Humaira Masihuddin (Advocate) LLb Shariah and Law (Pak) MA Cultural Anthropology (USA) MSc Criminal Justice Studies (UK). Tenth United Nations Congress; on the Prevention of Crime and treatment of offenders: Press Kit.

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Sensitive Policing Practices; Handling Women and Vulnerable Groups

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Sensitive Policing Practices;Handling Women and Vulnerable Groups

Humaira Masihuddin (Advocate)

LLb Shariah and Law (Pak)

MA Cultural Anthropology (USA)

MSc Criminal Justice Studies (UK)

Tenth United Nations Congress;on the Prevention of Crime and treatment of offenders: Press Kit

More than 50% of Victims around the world are unhappy about the way police treat them and many others end up severely traumatized by Criminal Justice system according to the International Crime Victims survey (ICVS) which has been carried out in more than 60 countries over the past decade.


Victims interviewed by the ICVS most commonly stated that police “did not do enough”…..Globally one in five victims of domestic violence or rape …..said police were incorrect or impolite.

Determining Vulnerable Groups.

Pakistani Police Training curriculums identify 3 major groups ,Women, Children and minorities,

Factors Contributing to Vulnerability

Vulnerable Groups

Factors responsible for the specific Vulnerability of Women.

Twin culprits; notions of Honor and Ownership

All Cultures assign Gender Roles to Males and Females.

These are expected patterns of thought and behavior that are associated with gender ideologies.

These gender roles are re enforced through various channels like formal education, print and electronic media, folk lore and songs.


In most cultures Males believe that they are superior to Females and that Females are dangerous, polluting weak and untrustworthy.

This particular type of gender ideology gives rise to Patriarchy

Patriarchy is the political Control that men exert over women right from the family unit up to the state.

This Gender hierarchy leads to gender exploitation.

Manifestation of Gender Hierarchy The First Dimension.

Grief at the birth of a baby girl.

Malnutrition through out life.

Unequal distribution of Family resources and assets.

Extreme Manifestations of this exploitation .

Physical and psychological abuse.


Acid throwing.



Sexual harassment.

Child marriages.

Forced marriages.

Types of Domestic violence.


Acid throwing.




Child marriages.


Illegal Confinement.


Honor Killings

Individual murders. Family sponsored murders, Jirga sponsored murders

Manifestations of gender Hierarchy The second dimension.

Through the lenses of the Justice system the following notions are bred.

Woman is a justifiable Victim. “She was asking for it.”

Crimes against women are usually Victim precipitated.

The protection women receive from male violence through recourse to the criminal justice system is limited both in access and effectiveness, (Morley and Mullender 1994)

The Response of the Justice system.

The Perils of the word “Domestic”

Group exercise.

The word Domestic

Trivializes the crime

Distracts police from the seriousness of the crime.

Domestic Violence

It’s most imp to understand that the sub culture of police practice does not exist in vacuum.

It is part and parcel of the super culture of society and is bound to be effected by it.

In order to neutralize the effects of harmful cultural notions and to provide effective protection and policing gender studies must be a part of police training and refresher courses a must every few years to off set the effect of informal training in the field.

Police Training

Best policing Practices vis a vis victims

Victims should be viewed as a special target group for the services and attention of the police and the criminal justice authorities.

Police response should be framed within a Service model rather than a procedural rights model.

(Courtesy; The Dutch Victim guidelines and their impact upon victim satisfaction)

It is one of the first demands of VICTIMOLOGY that In a case of a woman complainant (or any other vulnerable group complainant) There must be an assumption of Truth.

Police as first responders should be fully cogmizant of Victim’s feelings and stages of emotional reactions namely Denial, anger, remorse and grief and should be fully trained to deal with all or any one of them effectively.

The police must not only ensure protection of complainants and witnesses but also reassure the victims (Complainants and witnesses) of their safety and protection.

The investigation into complaints by members of vulnerable groups should be conducted keeping in mind the imbalance of power between dominant and subordinate groups.

Special emphasis on Communication skills.

Minority members might have communication problems as well as different set of values and beliefs , they need to be interviewed by highly sensitive and professionally competent persons.

In case of blasphemy cases as in Pakistan an allegation of blasphemy must be handled with extreme care as the minority member is in most cases a victim rather than a perpetrator.


The United Nations guidelines on Justice ….The Child Friendly version is note worthy for it’s exhaustive list of Protective measures for children.

All policing rule, procedures and protocols dealing with Juveniles must be within the framework of the convention on the Rights of the child. specially Article 37 and 40.

Article 37

Article 37

States Parties shall ensure that:

(a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age;

(b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time;

(c) Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age. In particular, every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults unless it is considered in the child's best interest not to do so and shall have the right to maintain contact with his or her family through correspondence and visits, save in exceptional circumstances;

(d) Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action.

Article 40 CRC

1. States Parties recognize the right of every child alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child's sense of dignity and worth, which reinforces the child's respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others and which takes into account the child's age and the desirability of promoting the child's reintegration and the child's assuming a constructive role in society.

2. To this end, and having regard to the relevant provisions of international instruments, States Parties shall, in particular, ensure that:

(a) No child shall be alleged as, be accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law by reason of acts or omissions that were not prohibited by national or international law at the time they were committed;

(b) Every child alleged as or accused of having infringed the penal law has at least the following guarantees:

(i) To be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law;

(ii) To be informed promptly and directly of the charges against him or her, and, if appropriate, through his or her parents or legal guardians, and to have legal or other appropriate assistance in the preparation and presentation of his or her defence;

(iii) To have the matter determined without delay by a competent, independent and impartial authority or judicial body in a fair hearing according to law, in the presence of legal or other appropriate assistance and, unless it is considered not to be in the best interest of the child, in particular, taking into account his or her age or situation, his or her parents or legal guardians;

(iv) Not to be compelled to give testimony or to confess guilt; to examine or have examined adverse witnesses and to obtain the participation and examination of witnesses on his or her behalf under conditions of equality;

(v) If considered to have infringed the penal law, to have this decision and any measures imposed in consequence thereof reviewed by a higher competent, independent and impartial authority or judicial body according to law;

(vi) To have the free assistance of an interpreter if the child cannot understand or speak the language used;

(vii) To have his or her privacy fully respected at all stages of the proceedings.

3. States Parties shall seek to promote the establishment of laws, procedures, authorities and institutions specifically applicable to children alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law, and, in particular:

(a) The establishment of a minimum age below which children shall be presumed not to have the capacity to infringe the penal law;

(b) Whenever appropriate and desirable, measures for dealing with such children without resorting to judicial proceedings, providing that human rights and legal safeguards are fully respected. 4. A variety of dispositions, such as care, guidance and supervision orders; counselling; probation; foster care; education and vocational training programmes and other alternatives to institutional care shall be available to ensure that children are dealt with in a manner appropriate to their well-being and proportionate both to their circumstances and the offence.

Skillful and sensitive interviewing of Minors/Juveniles.

introducing themselves before the interview

explaining the purpose of the interview

explaining that it is acceptable to tell the interviewer they don't know the answer to a question

explaining to children that they should correct the interviewer if he or she is mistaken

providing children with practice responding to open ended prompts when describing their experiences. (Courtesy National institute of child Health and Human Development)


The police must recognize that a child’s vocabulary is limited so they might not be able to fully describe their abuse.

A number of techniques are in use these days to elicit information from Minors, for example;

The use of anatomically detailed dolls.

Figure Drawings.

Violence is used as an expression rather than an instrument.

Deep and in depth investigation might reveal the Woman offender to be actually a victim.

Sensitization to The battered women’s syndrome.

Understanding Women Offenders

Skillful interviewing the ultimate Skill.

An interactive Exercise.

Diversionary Questions.

Empowerment questions.

Incident related Questions.

Thank You!

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