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Making it in a man’s world

PURSUING a criminal right up to the roof of a building. Running after a rapist in a baju kurung.
These are the Iron Ladies of the police force.
And they have a real, tough job at hand, unlike that of Sgt Suzanne “Pepper” Anderson, portrayed by Angie Dickinson in the popular 1970s TV show Police Woman.
For two senior policewomen, who have decades of experience with the police force, duty always comes first. Their gender is secondary.
“When things like this happen, you don’t think of your gender at all. You just do what you need to do because that is what is required,” she says.
Supt Choo, who took over her current post in May, is a mother of four and now a feisty grandmother.
In past interviews, she had shared about the sacrifices for the job, such as missing out on her children’s birthdays and school events. Pregnancy did not get in the way either.
“You would always wish that you had more time but because you were so focused on doing your job then, you didn’t feel it at the time,” she says.
She tells of working on a sexual assault case when she was pregnant.
“I brought the victim to the hospital for a check-up while I was in my second trimester. The nurse asked whether I had come to deliver my baby.
“I had to explain that the victim was there for treatment, not me,” she recalls with a laugh.
Supt Choo, who joined the force when she was just 20 years old, believes gender has nothing to do with a person’s ability to complete the task at hand.
“It never crossed my mind that I couldn’t carry out my job because I am a female.”
“Whatever that is entrusted to me, I see no difference in the way I execute my duties compared to my male colleagues,” she says.
Officers should be judged based on their individual personality, she stresses.
“In general, society tends to be more judgmental of women if they are seen to fail at a certain task but I think this has more to do with individuality, not gender.
“Perhaps someone is not fit to be in a certain position because they do not possess the traits. It certainly is not about being a man or a woman.”
Bukit Aman Deputy Director of Management (Service and Personnel) Deputy Comm Datuk Fatimah Abdul Hamid recalls how she chased a suspect up the roof of a building during an operation. Later, she still had to process the case files despite being worn out after a long day.
“In the police force, you need to be resilient as there will be many challenges. I tell myself all the time that no matter what it is, just get it done,” she says.
With all the focus given to her job, she has little time to take in public perception on the so-called limitations of women in the police force.
What about unwanted attention or indecent proposals faced by policewomen?
DCP Fatimah says they are well trained to handle such situations, and they did not bother them very much.
Time with her family is limited, too.
“But you still need to make sure that the household is in order. I’m so grateful to have a supportive family which understands that I have a job to do.”
Despite the tough challenges and public perception about the police force, both Supt Choo and DCP Fatimah agree that they have chosen a noble profession.
“While others sleep, you stay up and work to maintain security.
“This will certainly count as pahala (reward) for us when we leave this earth and I am proud do it,” says DCP Fatimah.
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