Tuesday, October 23, 2012

MA field trip

Yesterday I spent the morning at Sharjah Police Headquarters with a few of my new police officer BFFs. That's because I'm taking a course called Curriculum Design. Basically, this course consists of me designing an English class from scratch (topic, syllabus, materials, everything) for a particular audience. I've chosen to design a course called Law Enforcement English for Women. I figured since I spent all that time familiarizing myself with the Sharjah Police Academy over the summer, I might as well extend it into designing a course that could be taught there. I decided to design it for women specifically since they are separated from the men in the Academy anyway and their program is a different length.

It's been a lot of fun (and work) designing this course. The highlight was my visit to Sharjah Police Headquarters. After being bounced around from department to department, I finally got the message through that I wanted to speak to a female police officer. They brought me to a female, but she was a receptionist, not a police officer. Also, it's possible that they were under the impression that I was trying to apply to be a police officer. AWKWARD.

Anyway, I finally got sent to the office of the right person and I got to ask her all my structured interview and task analysis questions. Maybe when I'm done designing the course (in January) I'll tell you more about it. For now, I'm mostly excited that I got to ask her a question that's been on my mind for years: do all policewomen just happen to wear the hijab, or is it compulsory? Turns out: it's compulsory. Isn't that fascinating? If you are a woman who wants to be a police officer and you do not currently wear the veil, you a) do not become a policewoman; b) take on the veil for the purposes of becoming a policewoman; or c) submit to wearing the veil only as part of the police uniform.

Here is my new BFF.

I posted this picture on fb and I got a few comments asking how effective a long, skirted uniform was in police work. Good question! First of all, this particular officer has a "desk job," so to speak, so it's not really an issue. But second of all, it kind of is an issue because even non-desk-job policewomen dress like this. I think you can get a lot done in a skirt if you set your mind to it. Pioneer women got a lot done while wearing dresses, didn't they? Plus, women in conservative Muslim societies have grown up wearing long skirts their whole lives, and they're probably used to them. What are your thoughts? (Jeremy doesn't think hijab-as-a-uniform is particularly singular. I think that means he's lived here too long.)


Kathy Haynie said...

I like the look of the veil with the hat. It seems like this must be empowering work for women in this society. Did you get that sense during your interview?

Ariana said...

Totally fascinating!

Liz Johnson said...

I think this is really fascinating, but I can't exactly put my finger on why. Also, your black/teal outfit is majorly smashing.

Elena Bebe said...

I don't mean to offend anyone but I personally find the fact that these women are forced to veil quite humiliating. I think wearing the hijab should be her own choice and done out of free will (having said that, I am not a particular fan of the hijab because of the subtext but I still think it's an individual's right).
Even if you're used to functioning in a long skirt it does not necessarily mean that it won't slow you down, and from what I've observed, women in abayas don't usually move very fast (for whatever reason). I don't think that these police women are expected to engage in police chases though, are they?
I think I have only seen female police officers at the metro and even then, I don't know if they're REALLY expected to chase after criminals.
At police stations they're usually engaged in some form of paperwork.

Anonymous said...

I agree that wearing the Hijab (or other veils) should be out of choice. Nevertheless, I think that this is similar to office jobs (etc) where employees have to wear formal attire. In this situation, it can be in terms of serving public, so that those who find revealing clothes offending can feel comfortable in approaching the police for help.

Susanne said...

Did the lady seem pleased that you were interested in interviewing her about her job? I'm more curious how she felt having an American lady take the time to ask about her career. Good picture. Thanks for sharing about your time with her, and about the hijab being part of the uniform.

Elena Bebe said...

I don't think it's similar. One can look very modest or respectful without the hijab.
Whichever way you may want to look at it, the hijab is still a religious garment and not just ANY item of clothing. It should be left at that.

Stacie Perkins Palmer said...

Is it safe to assume that women aren't involved in any of the tactical police work? Perhaps they conduct investigations? And ditto Kathy Haynie's question. Speaking as a female LEO, desk duty is either a form of disciplinary action or it is requested due to health issues, injury, or pregnancy. How do the policewomen there view it? Just curious.

Bridget said...

The woman I interviewed was thrilled to be in her particular job. The police department is extensive with lots of "sections" (their term), and so I don't know that a desk job here carries the same implications that Stacie mentions.

At the time of my visit, there were signs in the station promoting the new Emirates Women Police Association, whose mission is "To emphasize the role of Emirati women and to enhance their contribution to the police work."

Cait said...

Ditto Liz, you look great Bridget! Love the skinny jeans.


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