This paper reports on South African research that documented the contributions policewomen have made to policing in that country as well as whether gender equality exists in the South African Police.
In January 1972, the South African Police (SAP) appointed its first two women, but their functions were severely limited. It was not until 1989 that all limitations on women officers were lifted such that women could apply for any position in the SAP. The SAP has started a recruitment drive designed to increase the number of women on the force. The current study involved interviews with 26 women police officers to determine their feelings, attitudes, and perspective on their job situation. The women were asked about their view of the role women have played in the changes that have occurred in the SAP since 1994. The women believe that they have brought an empathy to interviews with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence that is not characteristic of male officers. In addition, the women believe they have increased the use of communication skills to reduce aggression in police interactions with citizens. Regarding their status in the organization, the women perceive discrimination against them in promotions, citing evidence that the number of women in senior positions has not kept pace with their number in the organization. They do note, however, that the acceptance of women as equal to men under departmental policy has improved since 1994 in terms of the recognition of their performance, respect for their rights, and some improvement in their placement in senior positions. 14 references
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