Women in the law enforcement: Asma Noureen's story

Islamabad, Pakistan - 11 October 2021 - Can you describe yourself in a couple of sentences?
Assalam-o-Alaikum! My name is Asma Noureen. I work for the Federal Investigation Agency's Faisalabad unit as an investigation officer. I've been there for almost 2 years. I think I'm a progressive lady, and I want to be even better in future.
 
How many family members are you?
We are five siblings, two brothers and three sisters. My eldest sister also works with a law enforcement agency. She is part of the Punjab police.
 
What did you want to do when you were younger?
I always wanted to become someone who people would get inspired by.
 
Who has inspired you to do the work you do?
My father inspired me overall. But I can't claim that I saw someone and, as a result, wanted to join FIA. I just wanted to be myself, and I liked the idea of working in law enforcement. My father supported me the most. He said I should do what my heart wants and go and work wherever I wanted to.
 
What would surprise people to know about women working in law enforcement?
People would be surprised to know how many challenges and difficulties women face being investigative officers. You see, women are usually thought to be weak and fragile. But when dealing with criminals and conducting investigations, they do a lot of work, well beyond what may people expect.
 
What are the main challenges for the women working in the criminal justice sector in Pakistan?
There are a lot of challenges that women face. I think the biggest challenge is that people don't accept you. In our male-dominated society, people don't accept you being there as an investigative officer. They think women can't deal with criminals. People just can't believe it. And that's not only the public but also our colleagues. They don't even accept that you are here. Because of the male-dominant society, women face a lot of problems. Men try to degrade and dismiss you. This is something that is wrong within Pakistani society. But we do have some good colleagues. Colleagues that support and encourage us.
 
What are your main takeaways from the UNODC training session you just participated in?
The biggest takeaway is confidence; we get a lot of confidence from UNODC training. You get a lot of experience, especially the international exposure from international trainers and people from different places.
 
Does this training help you in developing the skills which you apply in your daily work?
Definitely yes. For example, I was in my office in a meeting one day, and we had 14 or 15 investigation officers there. Among those 15, I was the only one who knew what Trafficking in Person is. When someone asked about human trafficking, I was the only one who knew anything about it. No one was able to answer except me; I learned everything I know about human trafficking from UNODC; there is a lot of things to learn from UNODC.
 
What inspired you the most from the training offered by UNODC?
The main inspiration which comes from UNODC is motivation. You get a lot of motivation to work. When you go in the field, you feel like you have something special which other people lack. You gain expertise from UNODC workshops that those people don't have. I'll also request that my colleagues, who are primarily male, receive UNODC training. They need to be educated about trafficking in person and the smuggling of migrants.
 
What advice do you have for women seeking a career in the criminal justice sector in Pakistan?
I'll say: Ladies, please come. Please come, have the courage and face the problems. Only then you can learn and grow. Join us to ensure that female officers will have a better reputation in society and be more respected through our work.
 
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The Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants – Asia and the Middle East (GLO.ACT-Asia and the Middle East) is a four-year (2018-2022), €12 million joint initiative by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) being implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in up to five countries: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (Afghanistan), Islamic Republic of Iran (I.R. of Iran), Republic of Iraq (Iraq), Islamic Republic of Pakistan (Pakistan).
 
The project builds on a global community of practice set in motion in GLO.ACT 2015-2019 and assists governmental authorities and civil society organizations in targeted, innovative, and demand-driven interventions: sustaining effective strategy and policy development, legislative review and harmonization, capability development, and regional and trans-regional cooperation. The project also provides direct assistance to victims of human trafficking and vulnerable migrants through the strengthening of identification, referral, and protection mechanisms.
 
The project is funded by the European Union.
For more information, please contact:
Shahida Gillani, National Project Officer
Email: Shahida.gillani@un.org
For more information, please visit:
https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/glo-act2/index.html
Email: glo.act@un.org
Twitter:  @glo_act