Indonesia Police Watch ( IPW ) has called on the National Police to give equal access to women by recruiting more females and promoting policewomen to strategic positions.
The IPW voiced concerned that as the National Police Policewomen Corps celebrated its 65th anniversary on Sept. 1, women were underrepresented at the police top brass.
'The National Police tend to marginalize them,' chairman of the IPW said in a statement.
IPW data shows that the National Police currently have 20,000 policewomen, representing only 5 percent of the force's 400,000 personnel.
Unlike their male counterparts, most of policewomen have low-level desk jobs, Neta said.
In recent years, the force has deployed dolled-up policewomen to act as public relations agents to appear on a live news program on national television, which many see as a sign of deep-seated sexism within the corps.
'It is time for the National Police to give greater roles to policewomen by appointing them as regional police chief or other important positions at police headquarters,' Neta said.
Only a handful of policewomen have climbed up the ranks to come out near the top.
Brig. Gen. Rumiah Kartoredjo was Indonesia's first and so far only woman to be made a provincial police chief. She was promoted to lead the Banten Police in 2008, replacing Gen. Timur Pradopo, who is the current National Police chief. She retired in 2010.
The IPW said that having more policewomen in the National Police could help speed up reform within the corps, which had been marred by reports of police brutality and corruption.
'Policewomen are rarely seen as being arrogant or repressive. If they hold high positions, they could present themselves as being less arrogant toward their subordinates,' he said.
But before recruiting more policewomen, the National Police may need to review their policy in protecting them against sexual harassment.
Earlier this year, First Brig. Rani Indah Yuni Nugraeni, an officer at the Mojokerto Police in East Java, stayed away from her job for three months after Mojokerto Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Eko Puji Nugroho allegedly harassed her. Rani later claimed that Eko had harassed her by insisting on measuring her for a uniform. Eko defended his behavior by claiming it was merely a joke.
In July, the East Java Police's Internal Affairs Division ( Propam ) removed Eko from his position and dismissed Rani for being away without leave.
'We are aware that most sexual harassment takes place in the public sphere and not within the police corps. Nevertheless, we expect National Police officials to act firmly against offenders,' Neta said.
In the last few years, the National Police have significantly improved the roles of policewomen, but mostly for public relations purposes.