There has been a rise in females joining southeast china’s Taiwan Province Police in recent times. Latest statistic shows that there are about 5000 female officers there. These policewomen have however not been enjoying female friendly body armor.
The lack of appropriate gender-friendly protective vests is increasingly becoming a cause for concern among policewomen in this region. The body armor in use at the moment was designed strictly for men without any consideration for female physiological make up.
The stiffness of the armor is so unbearable that it causes discomfort for policewomen as they find it very difficult to put their chest out or carry out patrol activities which are normal part of their routines without nearly passing out.
Another area for concern is that this female friendly body armor doesn’t provide adequate protection for female officers. When a woman with an ample bust wears the vest, her chest is left exposed by sides, thereby leaving her vulnerable. Larger vests are no better; they seem loose and are hazardous to policewomen.
In the light of these concerns, the Taiwan police authorities in 2011 planned to introduce “M” size ballistic vest in addition to the vests already worn by male and female officers. This “M” size is to be worn by female officers, this is according to a report on gender polices. Policewomen in the country weren’t pleased with this development; they viewed the decision as a mere palliative. They feel more needs to be done for policewomen.
The national institute of justice of the United States in 2007 ruled that women vest must be clearly differentiated from that of men, and such vests must be designed with the unique body shape of females in mind. Overlapping layers were included in the vest to provide adequate body protection under stressful situations.
Female friendly body armor in the UK
To provide adequate ballistic protection for female officers in the UK, the UK Home office in 2014 began to create a new policy on police body armor to ensure that busty female officers receive adequate ballistic protection. The new vest will be labeled “formed/unformed” instead of male/female. The reason for this according to the nation’s police federation is to allow “flexibility of choice for all officers”.
Although this proposal is to provide policewomen with extra protection, experts warn that these additional protective elements may only make vests that are quite restrictive already become more uncomfortable to wear for women.