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By Mian Umar Hayat

Writer holds the degree of LLM.

Punjab Police has taken landmark initiatives to protect women in the form of the ‘Women Safety app’ and to support them in acquiring their legal rights through ‘Women Help Desks in police stations in around 96% of police stations, as per an official claim. Another promising initiative for women’s safety in public life is a guideline available on the official website of Punjab Police in the form of ten ‘General Safety Tips.

The first tip by Punjab Police for women’s safety is to keep the least amount of money while shopping and use plastic instruments such as a Debit / Credit card as an alternative to paper money. This tip reflects the wrong traditional side of Punjab Police, where safety lies in public, and police have post criminal role in concluding the after-effects. This tip also deviates from the practical life in the province where usage of Debit / Credit cards has yet to attain a high share of the market. One cannot change women’s shopping in markets of the province with the mere tool of awareness, but it leaves a wrong impression on Police and the Government that it cannot perform its duty well. Safety Application could revise this general safety tip in a better solution form such as “For shopping for costly items or shopping of larger amounts, markets with better security features may be preferred i.e., having adequate security cameras and security personnel”.

The second general safety tip is that women may wear the most miniature jewelry while shopping. This tip is similar in impact to the first one. However, it is comparatively wiser advice for safety as there is no need to wear jewelry while shopping. But this advice only fits some scenarios, as in some cases, women need to visit markets connected with their way to functions or gatherings. Hence this tip may be improvised to include safety measures regarding such scenarios.

The third general safety tip given by the Punjab Police to women the society is that they shall always hang their purses through their necks at the front. This tip is worst than those discussed earlier. Social settings in the province have their way of wearing and moving. A woman hanging a purse on her neck from the front is most likely stigmatized as being weird concerning social norms. The purse snatcher who could pull the bag from the shoulder or hand could also remove it from the neck, which results in hurting that woman’s physical safety and modesty. Here the Punjab Police could have raised awareness regarding their “Women Safety app” and its use regarding unusual activity around that woman.

The fourth general safety tip given to women by Punjab Police is to keep the vehicle doors locked while driving. This is very important and wise awareness in raising safety awareness among women. This tip may also be visualized through short electronic messages dramatized inappropriate manner. 

The fifth tip is to take necessary precautions while withdrawing vast amounts from the banks. There is a need for awareness raising through messages by the concerned quarters/stakeholders to take precautions while withdrawing huge amounts from banks. Some banks have pasted notices on their cash counters received from the SHOs that for cash transactions of Rs.500,000/- and above, the local police station may be informed for security purposes. If such notices are issued in light of some SOPs, then this fifth general safety tip for women may also have clear guidance for our women to avail of such protection.

The sixth tip is not to accept strangers’ edibles and to train the children about their repercussions. The seventh tip is not to allow strangers to enter the home without identification. Both are essential tips like the fourth one. Similarly, these general safety tips deserved mass awareness raising through dramatized electronic messages. One thing that needs to be added in the seventh tip is to include the necessity of entrance. As there is the rare ability to judge between absolute and fake identification, a stranger, after identification, may not be allowed to enter the home if there is no necessity for his entrance. 

The eighth tip is to make sure that the NIC of your servant is attested by NADRA and only employ servants with identification. Here the Punjab Police has diverted the women’s help toward the far corner. Punjab Police has launched the “Tenant & Employee Registration app” and “Pehchan Criminal Record app.” But general safety tip only refers to these readily available resources as the unknown process of attestation of CNIC copies by NADRA. There is also a matter of concern that most women in domestic help do not have CNIC registrations. Hence, the latter part of the tip that heads of homes must not employ servants without identification should also be part of the law in line with compulsory tenant registration. This issue is also highlighted by the labor and Human Resource Department, Government of Punjab, in its Punjab Domestic and Home-based Workers Survey of 2021-22.

The ninth tip is that small kids may not be left alone in the custody of single male / female servants. Here word single is confusing in that it refers to their marital status or their singular presence around the kid. Some reported cases in the context may be dramatized for mass media electronic awareness in women’s safety awareness campaigns. 

The last general safety tip for women by the Punjab Police is to train the kids to keep their distance from strangers. This tip may be further elaborated to include the reaction to be made by the kids if the strangers attempt to approach the kids in a specific manner. There is also a picture file link on the same webpage for the Urdu version of these general safety tips, but this link is inactive. An Urdu variant may be made available in the form of a webpage instead of a picture file link to be helpful for the majority of the population. Furthermore, the plight of the neglected will be remedified with the implementation of the Punjab Destitute and Neglected Children Act of 2004, and the finalization and implementation of the Child Protection Policy, which is pending with the Home Department Punjab.

Keeping the critical evaluation aside, awareness of these general safety tips for women is unprecedented by the Punjab Police. It is booked appreciation in every manner to have a proactive approach leaving behind conventional policing. After the suggested revisions, Media may give these general safety tips massive coverage in the form of short electronic messages through social and electronic media. PEMRA laws need to be implemented in letter and spirit, and the time fixed in these laws for social services will require to be made part in broadcasting.

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