NAYPYITAW — The Myanmar Police Force (MPF) has increased its gender ratio of women to men, with female police officers now making up 20 percent of the entire police force, said the director of the MPF Headquarters Police Colonel Aung Myint Naing.
“We have been able to increase the percentage of policewomen in the existing force to 20 percent,” said Police Colonel Aung Myint Naing in response to media questions during an event to mark Myanmar Police Force Day on Monday in Naypyitaw.
According to him, female police officers are not just serving in low positions, but many hold high-level positions with some even holding colonel positions. The drive to recruit more policewomen began in 2012, and they are performing not only office work but also policing activities like crime prevention and detection shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts, said Police Colonel Zaw Khin Aung of the Shan State Police Force.
“They perform a variety of duties including arresting suspects and investigations. There is also a principle that women can only be searched by women [police] in security issues. They also do office work and are assigned to respective special task forces,” said Police Colonel Zaw Khin Aung.
Female police officers can perform their duties on par with their male counterparts, and have no difficulty in performing their duties because of their gender, said a female police officer working at the Naypyitaw Police Headquarters.
“There are no challenges or difficulties. We underwent training together with policemen and did the same training as them. Women can work as well as men,” she said.
Female police officers are necessary as the Article 1,364 of the Myanmar Police Force handbook states that only women can search the body of female suspects in order not to harm their modesty, said advocate U Khin Maung Zaw.
“According to Article 1,368, female suspects must be held separate [from men] in police cells. And if there is only one female suspect in the cell, two older and respected women must keep her company,” said U Khin Maung Zaw.
According to strict criteria recently developed by the MPF, women aged between 18 and 25, with a minimum height of 5 feet 2 inches, who have passed the first year examination of a bachelor degree course are eligible to apply. They will have to undergo six months’ police training and receive a starting salary of 190,000 kyats per month.
Myanmar has a population of over 51 million people, and according to the data as of December 30, 2016, the police-people ratio was 10 to 650.
According to international norms, the standard ratio should be 10 to 400. Based on that ratio, Myanmar should have 127,500 police, said deputy home affairs minister Maj-Gen Aung Soe.
The existing police force can only cover the 61.5 percent of the national population, said the deputy minister.
The deputy minister added that the MPF is working to recruit new members for the police force across all regions and states.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.