The Nigerian Feminist Forum has condemned a court ruling that permits the Nigeria Police Force Regulation to dismiss pregnant unmarried policewomen from the service.
The ruling, delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday, refused to nullify Regulation 127 of the Nigeria Police Force, which forbids unmarried police officers from getting pregnant.
The ruling followed an action filed by the Nigerian Bar Association which queried the legality of the regulation.
The NBA argued that the NPF’s Regulation 127 conflicted with the 1999 constitution (as amended), and was discriminatory to an unmarried female police officer.
The NFF in a statement signed by its Communication Officer, Angela Nkwo, stated that the ruling reinforced patriarchy, gender-based violence, and systemic inequality.
The group also criticised the police for not issuing the same directive in its NPFR for male police officers alleging that it gave them the audacity to rape female suspects in their custody adding that the regulation was a gross violation of human rights.
The statement reads in part, “It is saddening that the ruling simply reinforces patriarchy, gender-based violence, systemic inequality and denies policewomen their rights even from the very temple of justice perceived to be the last hope of everyone.
“It is regrettable that the NPFR stipulates a policewoman must secure permission from the State Commissioner of Police before she can get married to a partner of her choice and should be dismissed if pregnant but unmarried.
“Yet the same provision is quiet as it relates to men, which explains why many are promiscuous while in the service and having sexual relationships unhindered everywhere, including the rape of hapless suspects under custody unabatedly.”
“The NFF condemns the NPFR provision which limits the rights of Nigerian women to associate, have control over their own bodies (bodily autonomy), and whether or not to marry.
“Marriage should be a choice and not forced, especially in the face of growing spousal and domestic violence, even as the Nigerian Feminist Forum notes that due to biological differences, women have limited time for child-bearing and the pressure of marriage to the burden of female police officer’s amounts to the gross human rights violation.
“The NFF maintains that the ruling of the federal high court enforces patriarchy, violence against women, restricts bodily autonomy, and systemic inequality, and we condemn it on all grounds.”
The NFF, however, the National Assembly to abolish the discriminatory provisions in the NPFR against women in the police service and demanded the inclusion of women in the decision-making process.
The group also called on the Inspector General of Police to recall women who have forcefully left the service due to the provision.
“We call on the National Assembly to immediately expunge the discriminations of the NPFR against policewomen and other military and uniform-wearing agencies.
“We call on the Police Service Commission to immediately direct State Police Commissioners to stop all further human rights violations of women in the force.
“We demand the inclusion of more women in decision-making levels of police formations.
“We call on the Inspector General of Police to recall all suspended and dismissed policewomen on account of this discriminatory provision,” the statement concluded.