A police recruit who was unable to conduct physical training after becoming pregnant was dismissed from the police force: an attitude described as discriminatory by shadow justice minister Gavin Gulia, who raised the issue in a parliamentary question on Wednesday.
Dr Gulia described the police force decision as a case of blatant gender discrimination: “This is a clear case of gender discrimination, as only women can get pregnant.”
But the Force denies any charge of sexual discrimination, arguing that the woman have every chance to re-apply for the post when she can conduct the physical part of the course.
“The decision to stop this police recruit from continuing the training course as a result of her pregnancy, was mainly due to the fact that, as sustained by a medical certificate, and a declaration by the recruit legal representative, this recruit was unable to further her physical training and other training such as unarmed combat, since it may endanger both her life and that of her baby,” a spokesperson for the Police Force told MaltaToday.
Gulia suggested that in such cases the woman should have been given a chance to conduct the physical part of her course after her pregnancy.
“They could have waited a year for her to be able to conduct the physical tests instead of denying her the opportunity to pursue her career in the police force,” he said.
Asked why this option was not even considered, the police spokesperson argued a call for applications is only issued whenever vacancies arise within this department, and hence it was not possible to postpone the physical part of the training course for one of the recruits, for an indefinite period of time, not knowing whether a vacancy will still exist when the recruit feels fit enough to proceed.
“The opportunity for this woman to have a chance to follow her career in the Police Force has not been deprived, and since she is still young, whenever another call for applications is issued, she still has the opportunity to file another application to follow another recruits’ training course, whenever she feels fit to undergo all phases of the training course as clearly laid down in the call for applications as published in the Government Gazette.”
When asked about this case by Gavin Gulia, Minister Tonio Borg replied that physical training is an integral part of the course to become a police constable and for this reason the pregnant woman was not allowed to continue her course.
Asked whether this case reflects badly on the police corps’ commitment to gender equality a spokesperson for the police said that this commitment is manifested by the number of female Police officers recruited in the Police Force during the past 10 years – a ratio of one female for every eight males and by the number of female police officers working on reduced hours to take care of their children.”