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All-woman Urban Patrol Disbanded

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The Shanghai's first all-woman urban management team has been disbanded because street vendors don't respect their "soft enforcement."

The 13 women on the team have been reassigned to other neighborhood law enforcement teams in Songjiang District, a government official said yesterday.

The district set up the special female team five years ago to improve the image of urban management officers, who are often involved in clashes with street vendors when carrying out their duties.

However, the trial has not been very effective as vendors tended to ignore the women.

"It's very difficult to convince the illegal vendors," said Xu Lan, a member of the all-woman team.

"Some just don't listen to us. They think that we are women who won't play hard," she added.

On one occasion, Xu came across a vegetable seller illegally doing business on the sidewalk, which blocked the way for pedestrians and made the road a mess.

She told him "it's illegal to do business on the road" and asked him "to move to a nearby market."

But the vendor persisted in selling on the sidewalks and sometimes in nearby communities to avoid the fees charged at standardized markets.

After spotting him selling on the roads on numerous occasions, Xu reported the case to the district authorities, who dispatched a team of male officers to confiscate the vendor's two baskets of vegetables according to city regulations.

"The goods are too heavy for me to carry," Xu said.

The female officers would often request that their male counterparts confiscate illegal vendors' goods if their admonishments had failed to make a difference.

"The major function of the women's patrol team was to inform rather than take physical action," said Chen Qiang, an official with the Songjiang District urban management bureau.

Chen said many vendors had no idea that their business broke regulations. Some onlookers sympathized with the vendors when the urban management officials confiscated the goods of the more stubborn ones.

So the bureau launched the female inspector team to improve the knowledge of the regulations among locals.

The all-female team has been disbanded to boost the community and neighborhood teams amid a growing need for women officers at grass-roots level, Chen said.

Liu Weiguang, an official with the city urban management bureau, said, "There's no need for a special all--female team. Women's gentle and careful natures can also play a big role when -working together with their male counterparts."

(Shanghai DailyNovember 13, 2010)


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