Cops told to be more sensitive to women, children

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/05 October) — Police assigned to the women and children’s desk should be more sensitive to the plight of women and children who seek their help, a police officer said on Monday.

Police Supt. Anna Marie Baladad, chief of the community division of the Davao City Police Office (DCPO), said policewomen are assigned to the women and children’s desk so that they can easily identify with and do something about the plight of women and children victims.

But an earlier report by the women’s groups Talikala and Lawig Bubai recounted how a police officer at the San Pedro police station discouraged a prostituted woman from filing a sexual harassment case against a man who allegedly assaulted and harassed her on the streets.

Belen Antoque, Lawig Bubai secretary-general, said the policewoman discouraged the complainant from filing the case against the man simply because ”that was the nature” of the woman’s job.

Antoque said the policewoman also showed greater sympathy towards the man than to the prostituted woman.

”She (policewoman) told us not to file the case because the man’s wife has just given birth,” Antoque said, adding, ”She asked the victim to pity the perpetrator.”

The woman was only sitting by the sidewalk of San Pedro Street when a male passerby intentionally touched her breast, she said.

Baladad said police officers assigned to the women and children’s desk should always keep in mind the right attitude towards women and children in need of special protection.

”We cannot just condemn or discriminate against them,” she said, referring to children forced into prostitution.

”They were only forced into it, in the first place,” the police official said during the launching of the child-friendly police station contest in Davao City.

In line with the opening this week of the search for the child-friendly police station in the city, the Sub- Committee on Children’s Welfare in the region will look into the attitude and competence of police officers in handling cases involving women and children.

Davao City has been known for its landmark legislations, the Women Development Code and Children’s Welfare Code, which seek to protect and advance children and women’s rights.

The search will also look into the kind of child protection programs being carried out by each police station and the quality of services delivered especially to children in need of special protection.

Worsening poverty in the country has forced many women and children into prostitution. Germelina A. Lacorte/Mindanews)