The agony of being a Ugandan policewoman

Unhygienic sanitation facilitates, poor accommodation and unsuitable uniforms are some of the factors that make serving as an officer in the Uganda Police Force a nightmare for women.

At most police stations, the toilets are unhygienic and unfriendly for the female gender. The flushing system for the toilets is broken yet on any given day, they are visited by hundreds of users.

“I have worked at Katwe and [Kampala Central Police Station] CPS. But I can tell you that most of the toilets are no longer ‘flushable’. You have to carry water if you’re to use them. They are always dirty because they are the same used by civilians,” a female police Sergeant said.

Police stations such as Katwe and CPS often have dozens of people who go to report cases, those who are following up on various issues including relatives and friends who go to check on their loved ones in detention.

The police estimates that the police stations around Kampala handle a daily average of 500 people.

The female cops also incur the cost of redesigning their uniforms to them a ‘feminist look’ way from the extra-large outfits given to them.

“You pick a uniform and realize that it is too big for you. Even when they take our measurements before sewing, they still come out when they are too big. I spend at least Shs 10,000 on re-tailoring my uniforms,” a female police constable said.

During a recent Uganda Police Force Women conference, policewomen demanded to have special pockets where they can put their staff as opposed to keeping them in pockets which becomes bulgy and shabby.

Police’s Chief Political Commissar, Asan Kasingye, then said that there was a proposal to design special policewomen uniforms. 

The acting Commissioner for Women Affairs in the police, Rose Nahyuha said that the proposal is still being followed even though she is not aware when it will materialize.

Nahyuha acknowledges that policewomen demand uniforms specifically tailored for women given that women have a special body shape and their uniforms need a special touch of the female blend as compared to where someone has to readjust.

“The proposal for special female police uniforms is still on. It is being handled by the uniform committee. There was also a suggestion for a special uniform for pregnant mothers. In general, policewomen want uniforms specifically tailored for women and not general,” Nahyuha said.

Not only uniforms and sanitation issues are making policewomen feel uncomfortable but also the lack of good accommodation facilities and lack of baby care centres.

“Policewomen face difficulties to work with their babies and they end up depriving children the right to breastfeed. Many leave them at home at a tender age,” Nahyuha said.

She however said that there is a plan to establish baby care centres according in Kampa Metropolitan Police before spreading to other regions.

A number of policewomen said they squeeze themselves in huts or temporary structure built by their partners who are also policemen.

Female commanders according to Nahyuha said, have several times fallen victims of a negative attitude from their male colleagues who disregard their instructions because they don’t want to be led by a woman.

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