A bill to modify the Police Act 2004 by eradicate the gender-discriminatory provisions on Thursday passed a second reading in the Senate.
The first bill reading was on October 10, 2019, Premium Times reports.
Ezenwa Onyewuchi, the sponsor of the bill, led the debate on its general principles. He said that that the bill sought to eradicate the provisions of regulations 122, 123, 124 and 127 from the principal act.
Regulation 123 prohibits women police from drilling under arms; Regulation 124 mandates female police officers to apply for permission to marry while the intending fiancé is also investigated for criminal records.
It also stipulates that a police woman who is single at the time of enlistment must spend three years in service before applying for permission to marry.
Analysis of the Police Act and other regulatory/policy documents governing the internal and external workings of the Nigeria Police Force reveals a preponderance of discriminatory regulations and workplace practices that reinforce gender discrimination.
Many of the police regulations particularly regulations 122, 123, 124 and 127 are overtly discriminatory to female police officers.
He added that “a woman police officer who is desirous of marrying must apply in writing to the commissioner of police for the State Police Command in which she is serving, requesting permission to marry. She is to also give the name, address and occupation of the person she intends to marry.”
He explained that there was need to eliminate the regulations as it was not reasonably justifiable in democratic state like Nigeria.
It is sad that women’s rights such as protection from sexual harassment, right to vote and be voted for, and right to hold public office are today a reality.
The quest for gender equality and equity in our clime will be further strengthened by the passage of this bill.
Senate minority leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe, said that amending the law would give dignity to females and to also ensure that “what a man can do, a woman can also do it.”
He pointed that:
It is very strange to find such provisions in the Police Act which is discriminatory in the sense that the male counterparts don’t have the same restrictions.
A male counterpart can marry a criminal nobody will go to check whether the woman he wants to marry is a criminal or not. A man does not need to write to ask for permission to marry and the question of not being able to bear arms.
Stella Oduah expressed disappointment on the law and showed her strong support, she said;
It is not human to do what we are currently doing to these people. How can you say that a woman should take permission before she gets pregnant? but when it suits her boss, he will impregnate her. I want to conclude that I strongly support this particular bill.
The bill has now been referred to the Senate Committee on Police Affairs to report back in four weeks.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, thereafter, urged the lawmakers to look into the laws of other services like Immigration and see if “there are also obnoxious provisions that are targeted against women.”