U.S. Funds Women Police Abroad; Why Not Here?

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LAPD officer. Photo by Chris Yarzab via Flickr

Last week’s Justice Department investigation into the Baltimore Police Department gave detailed accounting of rampant sexism, saying officers routinely ignored reports of rape and sexual assault against women, calling them “whores” and testing rape kits less than 15 percent of the time.

Women’s rights advocates are trying to call attention to a simple solution that has gotten little traction: hire more female officers. Research shows that rates of violence against women, sexual assault, rape and homicide all decline when many women officers are on the force, reports Public Radio International..

Next year, the U.S. government will spend $133 million to increase the presence of women in peace and security forces in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria.  Experts say research shows increasing the ranks of women officers in police departments is a recognized solution for reducing violence against women, in addition to stabilizing societies, building trust between civil society and law enforcement, reducing corruption and preventing radicalization. Advocates are at a loss as to why this idea falls on deaf ears domestically. Since the early 1990s, women have made up only about 13 percent of police officers in the U.S. That number shot up from 1.4 percent in the early 1970s, but it’s never been higher than its current rate.

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