A Flawed Democracy: Women in the Greek Hellenic Police

Current Greece was established in 1830 after shedding rule from the Ottoman Empire but was invaded by Italy in 1940 and occupied by Germany from 1941 to 1944 (Central Intelligence Agency 2020). The nation has undergone dictatorship and is now a parliamentary republic. Greece has a civil law legal system based on Roman law. The nation has a population of 10.6 million, 91.6 percent of whom are Greek, and Greek is the official language. The Pew Research Center (2020) reported that 87.6 percent of

Greeks were Christians in 2020, 5.9 percent were Muslim, and 6.1 percent were unaffiliated.

Greece initially had a dual police system, the national gendarmerie and the municipal police, influenced by Ottoman rule (Farsedakis 2006). However, over time and reorganization, the two systems joined to create the Hellenic Police in 1984. The Hellenic Police is a national centralized police force with regional services. Women first entered the police force in Greece in 1969 (Hellenic Police 2011). At this time, 69 women were appointed to the former City Police Force (1921—1984), and by 1971, women police were under with the status of “special women staff” in the Gendarmerie Service. More than ten years later, women were allowed to attend the police academy but were held to a 10 percent quota. However, by 2003, the quota limits were eliminated. By 2006, women represented 11 percent of the Hellenic Police (Farsedakis 2006). Yet, in 2011, womens representation decreased to 10 percent (Hellenic Police 2011). According to the Hellenic Police, women are recruited without quotas and attend the same academies with the same training. Furthermore, women are not restricted to any position and all ranks are open. In 2020, a woman was promoted to Police Major General for the first time. Women of the Hellenic Police are experiencing the same drop that most women police around the world are experiencing.

Hybrid Regime: Women in the Turkish National Police

The Republic of Turkey declared independence in 1923, shortly after the fall of the Ottoman Empire (Central Intelligence Agency 2020). Turkey is currently a presidential republic with a civil law system based on various European legal systems. The population of Turkey is 82 million with over 70 percent Turks and 19 percent Kurds. Turkish is the official language and 98 percent of Turks are Muslim (Pew Research Center 2020).

Turkeys police system is a national police made up of the Turkish National Police (TNP), the General Directorate of Police, and the local branches (Giiltekin, Leichtman, and Garrison 2010). There is not much research on women police in Turkey. A news story tells us that the first traffic police officer in Istanbul’s police force was Fikriye Yavuz (Pancar 2020). She served as a female traffic police officer. So unusual was this that she made headlines. She was later appointed to several branches of the TNP and eventually became chief inspector. However, there was no systematic effort to recruit women into the TNP until 1979 (Giiltekin, Leichtman, and Garrison 2010). In their research, Giiltekin, Leichtman, and Garrison found that womens representation in the TNP was 4.9 percent in 2001 and 5.5 percent in 2005. The lowest rank within the police is constable, or police officer, which is unranked. Women constables represent 5.2 percent of all TNP officials. Seen another way, among all constables (unranked officers), women represent 86.8 percent of this group. Women have a small representation in each of the ranks: sergeant, lieutenant, captain, major, and one- to four-star police chiefs. Giiltekin and colleagues also found that women police face discrimination in recruitment, promotion, and deployment.


The analysis of the Eastern and Western Hemispheres reveals various patterns when examining women in policing. First, in each nation, women joined under the assumption that women are innately qualified to work with women and children. With earlier entry, the focus was on prostitution. Whether to protect women or to control them, reformers and police alike defined this as a woman’s job. With later entry, the focus was on searching and guarding females or on responding to gender-based violence. All nations relegated cases involving children to the womens sphere of work with the tasks of protecting, guiding, interviewing, and guarding juveniles, often within juvenile detention centers. These duties resulted in the second commonality among most nations, the WPS. Most police forces created WPSs in order to work with women and children. However, more recently, these stations have been designed specifically to deal with gender-based violence. In most cases, these stations have been all-women stations.

A third pattern found with almost all nations was that women entered as civilians before they became policewomen and then became women police. Most nations denied women full police powers upon entry. When women gained police power, it was typically when dealing with women, children, and traffic. Some police forces still do not allow women officers to police men. Fourth, in all nations, women police have had to deal with resistance from male coworkers. Resistance takes the form of negative attitudes, verbal abuse and sexual harassment, and assault. As a male-dominant masculine occupation, women who have broken the gender barrier have had to grow a “thick skin” in order to work within the organization. Fifth, recruitment, training, and deployment for women has gone from avoidance to creating legal barriers to acceptance with altered gender-specific requirements. Initially, the possibility of a woman police was not a concept. Later, legal barriers were erected. From gaining parental permission to height requirements, women have had to battle many hurdles in order to find a place in the police organization. Once women gained entry, training was altered to accommodate the height and build of women. When finally sworn in as a police officer, women have had to face legal barriers that limited hours and the times of day they could work as well as how strenuous the work given them was. Last, but certainly not the end, women have faced hurdles in gaining promotions. In some police forces, superiors initiate promotion.

In all police forces, men tend to be given priority in most cases of promotion. The six commonalities outlined here are experienced with variation throughout the world. The next two chapters will examine these issues in detail. In Chapter 5, I will examine the gendered organizational structure that tends to create barriers for women police in the areas of recruitment, training, and promotion. In Chapter 6, I will focus on the resulting stress of these barriers, as well as sexual harassment and the gendered work of women police.

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