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An Empirical Study on Job Stress amongst Women in Maldives Police Service.

1. Introduction

Maldives Police service (MPS) was established as a civilian institutional body in 2004. Women constitute 7.4% of the Maldives Police Service. The number of women in the National Security Service (NSS) which was in operation before MPS was very less with the first recruitment of women into NSS happening in late 1988. Though MPS has one of the best proportions of women police officers in the entire workforce as compared to the other police services in Asia, studies have found many factors which make service difficult for serving women police officers which contributes to their less numbers in the force. Hence, it is important to understand into the issues faced by women police officers in MPS and address them effectively as soon as possible to redress the gender gap in police service and make police service gender neutral. However, there is much left to be done to turn the police force to one which is suited to the times (CHRI, 2015).

Policing is considered as most stressful profession than other professions and they have the greater risk of stress (Suresh et al, 2013). The job of the police is laden with many stressful factors like 24 hour availability, exposure to crime, administrative problems etc (Joseph & Nagrajamurthy, 2014). For females this becomes more of a problem as they juggle between their professional and personal life and try to find the right balance between the toughness and the compassion. The problem of stress is more highlighted in case of Maldives police because of various administrative problems it is facing.The MPS is an infant in terms of the year of it was established, and it is still undergoing through the stabilization process. Hence many new and improved changes are being brought in MPS. This adds the change management as an additional stress to the police officers.

Especially women police officers face more stress related problems than their male counterpart as they manage the family commitments and also working in law enforcement. Studies have 11 shown that working hours, education, age and relationship with co-worker and superior were the factors which led them to feel stressed (Mohanraj & Natesan, 2015). Stress is a widespread problem; it impacts the performance of both the individual and the organization (Leka et al., 2003). Stress contributes not only to the physical disorders, but also to emotional problems. Some research suggests that police officers commit suicide at a higher rate than other groups. Most investigators report unusually high rates of divorce among police (Yasodha & Kumudha, 2014).

There is no doubt about the fact that the stress can be harmful for the police employees. It can cause physical health problems among the police workers and can also cause psychological problems, especially in the decision making abilities of police force.

This project aims to study stress among the women in the Maldives police service so as to understand what the various reasons which are causing stress are. The project also aims to analyze the reasons and suggest the method of stress-reduction so that they can perform their duty to the best of their ability.

Project Background

The importance of having women police officers is highlighted by the fact that studies conducted since 1970s have shown that women are better in communication and settling disputes in a society (Horne, 2015). Contrary to popular belief and portrayal in visual media, police work involves a lot of duties such as desk work, entering complaints, looking into the complaints, processing records etc, which are not of a brutal and violent nature to handle a lot of duties in police service, diplomacy and communication is required for which women are better suited than men. Even then, the traditional belief in police being a man’s work and the misconception that women are soft and cannot handle heavy workload have adversely affected the perception of the 12 general society. This has been found to be a major factor which deters women from applying for jobs in police service irrespective of high unemployment in many countries.

It has also been found through repeated studies that issues like domestic violence are best handled by women. Situations like domestic violence very often require the service of dispute settlement by the police including efforts to calm down the affected party and arrive at peace. Such duties are best done by women who are deemed more approachable and understanding by the public, to handle them. In situations of distress like sexual assault and other forms of assault which is mostly found to have female victims, the victims find is easier to relate the incident and share their problems with female police officers than males whom they think will not be able to understand their struggle properly (Parson &Bannon, 2014).

Security checks also need women police officers to do effective body checks of female to maintain safety and peace. Hence it can be clearly understood that the need for women in police service is very high and that police service is not necessarily restricted to use of superior physical strength and use of force for which men are more desirable. It is important that in any police service sufficient women officers are present to tackle issues of a sensitive nature like rape where the victims who are mostly women would not feel comfortable revealing or discussing their experience with men.

In Maldives the importance of having women in police service can be understood by the mere fact that the law states that some situations in which women need assistance of police personnel should be handled by women employees only. Moreover the geographical spread of the service in 92 islands makes it imperative that each island should have sufficient women police officers to be able to handle many issues effectively with maximum efficiency. Half the population constituted by women will be more comfortable approaching women police officers with their 13 problems rather than male police officers who are traditionally perceived as those who use force in exercising their duties. However, to meet this demand fairly the current recruitment rate as well as retention rate of women in MPS, the institution and practice in place have not effectively implemented ways to do it. There are many barriers to the recruitment, retention in service as well as promotion to higher posts for women police officersin MPS which needs careful inquiry and analysis to come up with effective solutions which can bring tangible change.

There is no doubt that police workers are under constant pressure. They are not only are supposed to deal with violent, antisocial, and mistrustful elements of society, they are also expected to exercise discretion under critical circumstances (Crank and Caldero, 1999). Research has shown in past that stress can be quite detrimental for the police force, especially the females in the police force.

Researchers have argued that police officers' job performance can be affected badly when officers experience chronic stress (Goodman, 1990). The stress related with work adds up with the stress of family and other personal issues (Clay, 2011), and it makes the job more challenging. Researches show that workers bring their personal issues to the work environment and it has a major impact on the both the individual and the organizational performance. Dealing with people is the phenomena of 21st century. Hence, it is important todeal with the issues related with work environment and provide support to the individual’s personal issues in parallel (Health Advocate, 2009).

Although a lot of research is available that looks in the causes of stress, sufficient research has not been conducted to establish the difference between the causes and the reaction of the stress 14 among the female police officers as compared to the male police officers. The research done in the earlier stages mainly focus on the male police officers.

These same analysis have been used for policy making, but the research in other professions have indicated that there are huge differences in the perceptions and coping skills of male and female workers. So, in order to truly counteract the causes for stress among women police officials, it is important to analyze the causes of stress among women independently.

This is more important in case of Maldives Police Service, where the foundation for the future career pathways is still being laid. In order to help in increasing the number of women police officials, it is quite necessary for the administrators to understand and keep in view the causes of stress among the women officials.

The aim of this project is to analyze the causes of the stress among the female police officers and how they differ from the stress causes among the males. The purpose is to understand these causes and suggest the methods that can be incorporated in the future five year plans so as to reduce the stress for the women officials.

The project will take reference from the other countries where the police force is considered exemplary and provide the policy framework needed to reduce the stress among the police official and help them perform better in interest of the public. Options and methods for controlling the stress and preventing the work burnout will also be identified and listed out based on the research.

Project Aim and Objectives

As described above the main aim of the project is to find and suggest the Study on Stress among Women in Maldives Police Service and define the policy framework that will help in reducing 15 the stress among the women officials. The project also endeavors to suggest some stress coping mechanisms for the factors which cannot be altered through the policy changes. 

The objectives of the research are as follows:

     i) To find out the reasons that cause stress in day to day working life of women in MPS.

     ii) To suggest the techniques to manage the stress and reducing managerial problems.

The research will aim to answer the following questions:

    i) What are the factors which contribute to their stress at the work place?

    ii) Do they receive solutions to their problems from their managers?

    iii) How can the stress be managed?

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