The trials of being a policewoman

National 2 minutes, 15 seconds

BELAIT

POLICEWOMEN in Belait find that society still holds certain perceptions about gender even after 40 years of women serving in the force.

Staff Sgt Lely Ranggau @ Pehin Dato Pekerma Dewa Hj Mohd Ali said the public perception towards a policewoman was the toughest challenge, especially when carrying out investigations.

“When you go out to meet people, you get all sorts of characters, said the 45-year-old who joined RBPF in May 1992. She declined to elaborate.

The veteran policewoman was speaking to The Brunei Times during a blood donation drive at the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) Belait district headquarters in Panaga last Thursday.

The event was held to mark the 40th anniversary of the formation of the women's attachment in Brunei Darussalam.

Among the longest-serving policewomen in the district, Staff Sgt Lely admitted that she did not have a pre-existing interest in serving her country with the police but the work grew on her.

“I remember applying for a position with a friend after seeing an advertisement on television. After training and attachment at the airport in Bandar (Seri Begawan), I was posted to Belait with the traffic police and also following my husband who was working here. Eventually, I came to enjoy the work and have been with the police since,” she said.

Fresh recruit Woman Police Constable Nur Haziyah Wasmali, one of several policewomen who donated blood, shared the view of her senior colleague, saying that gender was a major influence on the communication between police officers and the public in her line of work.

“They (the public) are more fussy when dealing with policewomen… I find it more difficult to speak to women! Maybe women prefer to talk to a male officer.

“From my point of view, it's more comfortable for people to speak with someone from the opposite gender… I try my best to (work around it). I'm still new and I'm still learning but from what I can see it's hard to change that,” said Nur Haziyah.

“There is no difference in the training. They treat us equally as with the men. However, policewomen don't go out to the field alone. They must be accompanied by a male officer,” she added.

Unlike Staff Sgt Lely, Nur Haziyah had always wanted to join the police. Failing a fitness test in 2011, she was eventually accepted on her second attempt, joining active duty in November 2013.

Today, more than 30 policewomen serve with Belait's four police stations in Kuala Belait, Seria, Sg Liang and Labi, as well as its headquarters in Panaga.

Open to RBPF personnel and members of the public, and assisted by staff of Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital blood bank, the drive collected 37 pints of blood.

The Brunei Times