First female officer commands police parade

  • Chandpur SP Shamsunnahar leads the guard of honour parade on the inaugural day of Police Week 2016 at Rajarbagh Police Lines ground in the capital yesterday. Shamsunnahar is the first female police officer in the country’s history to lead a parade as the commander

Women of Bangladesh got yet another role model to look up to for encouragement in their struggle for emancipation when a female official led the ongoing Police Week’s parade as the commander for the first time in history.

Since democracy was reinstated in the country two and a half decades ago, the head of the government has always been women. Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia have shared five terms as prime minister among themselves.

Last year, the Jatiya Sangsad got its first female Speaker in Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury. The same year, Wasfia Nazreen became the first Bangladeshi to climb the highest mountains of all the seven continents.

It would be too early to say that it indicates a major policy shift in the law enforcement agency towards women. But When Shamsunnahar, superintendent of police (SP) of  Chandpur district, commanded the Police Week 2016 parade yesterday it was surely the beginning of a new era.

Shamsunnahar is the first woman to lead the prestigious parade in its 41-year-old tradition.

The parade ground at the Rajarbagh Police Lines in Dhaka also witnessed the making of two more histories.

For the first time ever, there was only one man – the inspector general of police (IGP) – on the SUV in which Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday inspected the parade and returned salute.

Also, for the first time in 41 years, the inspection SUV was driven by a woman – Constable Mita Biswas – whose achievement too was no lesser a feat for a force that is heavily dominated by men.

According to a high official from the police administration, there are currently more than 7,000 female members in the 150,000-strong force. This means only 4.5% of the police’s manpower are women.

The Dhaka Tribune caught up with SP Shamsunnahar right after the completion of the parade.

Breathless after creating history by commanding the parade but very excited and eager to talk about the special honour, Shamsunnahar said: “I have been waiting for this day for a long time. Leading a parade like this, especially in front of the prime minister, was a dream come true.”

Her parents were standing by her and they were proud and happy at their daughter’s feat.

Shmsunnahar was the deputy parade commander during the 2008 police week and it has been her dream to one day be the parade commander.

Mother of a son and a daughter, Shamsunnahar got promoted to the post of SP and became the chief of Chandpur district police last year. She joined the force in 2001 after passing the 20th Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) examination.

A political science graduate from Dhaka University, Shamsunnahar has served successfully in various units of the police around the country including Manikganj district police, Dhaka Metropolitan Police, police headquarters and tourist police.

During 2009-10, she was part of the human resources development programme of the East Timur national police force. From 2011-14, she worked as a high official at the UN office in Italy. The showcase in her office features seven UN peace awards and two IG badges.

Meanwhile, Constable Mita Biswas, who has a BA degree, joined the force in 2007. The Jhenaidah girl joined the transport division of police last year.

When asked about the historic moment, noted women’s rights activist Salma Ali, also executive director of Bangladesh National Woman Lawyers’ Association, said: “The women in Bangladesh have many skills and qualifications but they do not get the required opportunities at their workplaces.

“What happened today marks the beginning of a new era for women’s fight for emancipation. This surely will encourage many women not only to strive for the best in their own workplaces but attract many women to join the police force.”

Source: Dhaka Tribune

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