Constable Zeena Ali became New Zealand Police’s first member to wear a specially designed hijab introduced as part of the force’s uniform to encourage more Muslim women to join the ranks. Ali, 30, was inspired to join the police to help her Muslim community after the Christchurch terror attack last year in which 51 people were killed at two mosques in New Zealand, the New Zealand Herald reported.
Zeena Ali has worked with police to design a garment that is both functional for her new role and considerate of her religion, it said.
“It feels great to be able to go out and show the New Zealand Police uniform hijab because I was able to take part in the design process,” she said, adding that she was “proud” to represent her community – particularly women. Ali believes that the move will encourage other women to apply to the force as well.
“Having a police-branded hijab means women, who may not have previously considered policing, can do so now. It’s great how the police incorporated my religion and culture,” she said.
“We need more Muslim women to help in the community, most of them are too scared to talk to the police and would probably shut the front door if a man turned up to talk to them. If we have more women turning up, a more diverse front line, then we can reduce more crime,” she said.
Valuing diversity is one of the six core values for New Zealand Police – alongside professionalism, respect, integrity, empathy, and commitment to Maori and the Treaty of Waitangi, the report said.
“We recognize the value different perspectives and experiences bring to making us better at what we do,” New Zealand Police said. “We need people with a range of skills, backgrounds and experience levels – diversity is essential so that we can effectively serve the needs of New Zealand’s communities now and in the future,” it said.
In 2008, New Zealand Police introduced the turban into the uniform, and Nelson Constable Jagmohan Malhi became the first officer to wear it on duty. Until then he had to forgo the turban on duty, despite it being an important part of his Sikh faith.
In the UK, the Metropolitan Police in London approved a uniform hijab in 2006 with Police Scotland following in 2016. In Australia, Maha Sukkar of Victoria Police wore a hijab for the first time in 2004, BBC mentioned in a report.
Not competent enough to sit idle and stare as the world goes by, Pallavi is optimistic to a fault and believes in building her world on her own rather than depending on others to make things right.