Bangladesh Launches All‑Woman Police Unit to Fight Cyber Crimes Against Women
The Bangladesh police have introduced an all-woman unit to address the rapidly rising instances of online abuse and harassment targeting women.
The decision to launch the all-woman unit is rooted in the idea that women experiencing abuse online will be more comfortable discussing their grievances with women police officers — leading to more crimes being reported. The announcement comes amid growing public discontent over the prevalence of gender-based violence on- and off-line.
“We have different teams working with cyber crime in the police … but many [women] don’t want to approach these areas, that’s why we have created an all-woman team…. We believe that women will be more comfortable to speak to the all-woman team. … the unit will not reveal the names of the women who complain. This will further encourage them,” Benazir Ahmed, inspector general of police, told Reuters.
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With increased digital penetration in Bangladesh, cases of online abuse against women — often sexualized and violent and including cyberstalking, revenge porn, and cyberbullying — have shot up. “It’s easier to target women online rather than in the real world. All you need is a phone,” said Maleka Banu, general secretary of women’s rights group Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, told Al Jazeera.
All-women police units have shown positive results in the past, in terms of increased reportage of crimes against women, especially in South Asian countries like India and Bangladesh. However, despite a rise in women police officers in Bangladesh, women still constitute less than 10% of the police force. So, it might be even more helpful to sensitize the entire police force, irrespective of gender, to on- and off-line violence against women and to train the whole force to address women’s reports empathetically.
Until that time, the police need to ensure the all-woman unit actually has the resources it needs to offer an effective solution, rather than be a hollow, tokenistic move. “Starting an all-female police unit is a good step. But this unit needs to be monitored properly, so that women can reach out to them, or else it won’t create any change,” Banu noted.