In a bizarre twist of events, junior police officers in Mogadishu Tuesday arrested and frisked a woman on suspicion she was a man but an elderly officer’s tried and tested mastery of the line between man and woman saved the day.
Police officers manning a check point at Daljirka Dahsoon (Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) area stopped Faiso Abdi on grounds they suspected she was ‘a man in female garments’.
According to Faiso, who is a human rights activist in Mogadishu, the officers were not convinced she was a woman because she has some little moustache. To decode her gender, the officers, Faiso said transferred her to Bondhere police station.
“The police officer in charge ordered a female officer at the desk to take me to a private room to be frisked,” Faiso told Goobjoog Television. “The female officer took me to sleeping room for female police officers.”
The female officer asked me to undress but I declined, said Faiso. Unable to ‘establish her gender’, the officer returned Faiso to the desk where she informed the rest of the officers her attempts to establish Faiso’s gender through a physical check hit a snag.
What ensued shortly thereafter was a battle of wits among the police officers on how best to handle such a case which perhaps in their cumulative years of service they had not been faced with.
It took the intervention of an elderly police officer who walked into the office for Faiso to gain her freedom from what she described as an embarrassing and harrowing experience.
“Without even a question, the elderly officer ordered I be released telling his fellow officers that I was female,” Faiso said during the 8.00pm current affairs show at Goobjoog Television.
Faiso said it was unfortunate police officers in the city did not have the requisite knowledge on how to deal with members of the public especially when conducting arrests.
“Police officers are legally allowed to search you under certain conditions when you are arrested but they must conduct their search in a reasonable and dignified manner.”
Attempts to lodge complaints with the head of the police station failed after she was turned away and threatened with another arrest.
Faiso told Goobjoog Television she had not experienced such a case before. “This is my body,” Faiso said, wondering why the officers thought she was a man ‘yet I have a husband’.