LONDON: Scotland Yard has appointed its first Muslim and Asian woman Shabnam Chaudhri as a detective superintendent of police, a private media outlet reported on Tuesday.
British-Pakistani Chaudhry, hailing from Karachi, moved to London with her family when she was two years old.
In recognition of her “outstanding contribution” to fighting hate crime and criminal gangs, Chaudhri has been appointed as the first Muslim woman to become a detective superintendent of the Metropolitan Police Service.
Speaking about her experience, Chaudhri said, “Becoming detective superintendent is a big achievement for me because I worked for six years for this position. I have fought crime gangs, I have been kicked, attacked, punched, assaulted, chased and gangs have targeted me.”
The challenges faced by Chaudhri during her career as a policewoman, however, are not all of the challenges she had to overcome to reach this position. In addition to fighting crime, Chaudhri had to fight a much more personal fight at home against familial pressure to get married at an early age.
Recalling the time when she joined the police in London in 1989, she said, “My parents wanted me to get married early and settle down. I opposed and joined the police to make a difference.”
She further said, “When my parents saw that I was fighting crime and helping people in need, they became happy and proud of me. Those were times when there were not many Asian and Muslim women in the police. Women from our background are still reluctant to come to the police but I think they should apply for police jobs.”
During her 28 years of service with the Met police across London, Chaudhri has won dozens of awards. Moreover, she works with other women to raise awareness on hate crimes and domestic abuse among women from such areas as have relatively less access to police.
Speaking about her career, Chaudhri said that the nature of a policewoman’s job has changed over the years, with the introduction of more sophistication and better planning in the department’s work.
“Everyday brings a new challenge in this job,” she said.
“I have dealt with every kind of job. We have vests to protect ourselves against attacks. We have the equipment to keep ourselves safe. I have managed teams and I have been on front line duty. I am not scared of anything and that’s what I have learned while being in the police,” she said.
The detective superintendent said that more women – and especially more Muslim and Asian women – should join the police. “I would like more Muslim and Asian women to be in the police,” she said, adding that working women from Pakistan made her proud and that Benazir Bhutto inspired her.
Her own parents had opposed her getting an education, but that changed later, she said. “We were four sisters and their biggest wish was that we all get married, but we had careers on our minds while growing up and that’s how it all happened,” she recalled, adding, “My mother is my role model.”