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Young women encouraged to join national police of Timor-Leste

The IT unit of in the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL).
The IT unit of in the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL). Photo: UNDP in Timor Leste.

A recent survey on gender violence indicates that 38 percent of Timorese women have experienced physical violence by the age of 15. Despite the enactment of the Law Against Domestic Violence in 2010, it is estimated that 30 to 50 percent of Timorese women continue to suffer abuse from their partners at some point in their relationship.

Currently 590 women work in the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL), representing 18 percent of the total police force. While this number seems high compared to other countries in the region, it is still insufficient to meet the needs of Timor-Leste.

Highlights

  • Women represent 18 percent of the total police force in Timor Leste.
  • According to a recent survey on gender violence, 38% of Timorese women have experienced physical violence by the age of 15.
  • While the PNTL was established in 2000, it was not until 2011 that it assumed full policing responsibility for Timor-Leste.
  • UNDP’s assistance focuses on strategic planning, information technology, human resources, procurement, fleet management and public relations.

“We really need to ensure that we have more women in the PNTL,” said Umbelina Soares, PNTL Assistant Superintendent. “A lot of violent crimes in Timor-Leste are unfortunately gender-based, including sexual assault, physical assault, mental abuse and economic oppression”.

In response to the need, in 2013 UNDP initiated a two-year capacity building project, aiming to strengthen the management and administrative capacity of PNTL. One of the project’s goals is to support gender mainstreaming in all PNTL processes as well as the development of a human resources strategy designed to attract women to policing.

“Since victims feel more comfortable to talk to and report crimes to women police, the engagement of young women in PNTL will bring stability and security to the communities we work in,” Soares added.

The project works to strengthen five key areas identified by PNTL High Command: information technology, human resources, procurement management, fleet management and public relations.

The project helped PNTL with its efforts to recruit more women to the force. The first campaign specifically targeting young women was run for the entire month of March in 2014, comprised of TV and radio commercials and an eight-minute video, which were broadcast daily on Timor’s national broadcaster. The content of the commercials and video display the variety of roles women police officers play in the PNTL, promoting existing women officers and highlighting the qualities that are needed for applicants.

“We wanted to show that women are involved in all aspects of police work- from forensics, to maritime, to Special Forces and to transit police,” says Soares. “We also wanted young women to know that if they want to join the police, they have to be in good health and physical fitness, finish their schooling and have strong ethics.”

Special attention was placed on supporting the capacity of PNTL administrative units with respect to gender mainstreaming. To respond effectively to gender based violence and other crimes, PNTL needs tools to relay and analyse information quickly. With UNDP’s support, The Information Technology and Public Relations Units have developed an internal training video for police officers on how they can access IT support to improve the delivery of their services.  

The video was prepared by PNTL officers, and will be posted on the PNTL website as a training tool for 3,500 police officers.

“This is the first video we have made and are very proud of it and of the collaboration between the public relations and IT units,” said Chief Inspector Honorio A. Barreto, Chief of Public Relations. “The PNTL must be able to provide reliable information, not just to the public but also between ourselves. This will help build confidence in the professionalism of our police force.”