Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Women declared too fat for police work

An article in South Africa's Daily Dispatch today revealed that more than 10 candidates were turned away from the Mthatha Police College today for being too fat. The women were responding to a recruitment effort by the South African police forces to fill 700 vacancies, but said they were not told about any size requirements for the trainee program until they were weighed and measured as part of their interview:

"She said when they arrived at the college they were told their waists should be no more than 88cm and their body mass below a certain measurement. "

For those who are wondering, 88 centimeters = 34.6 inches.

No fitness tests were mentioned in the article; only weight and waist measurement.

I wonder, really, if this is a not-so-subtle form of de facto racism? By using a BMI standard that was developed in reference to Western European white males and using it to restrict the employment of South African black women, they set an unfair standard. Not to mention that a person's waist circumference has little or nothing to do with their ability to do the job! Not when they could simply offer a fitness/endurance test to screen applicants. They also need to disclose the requirements of the position before applicants show up on their doorstep, so that the applicants can include physical conditioning in their preparations.

As badly as South Africa needs keen, ethical and dedicated officers, it's a wonder that they'd turn away any potential recruits on the authority of a measuring tape.


Juliet said...

That is quite remarkable. I can completely understand needing to have applicants pass physical aptitude tests to be a police officer. That's a physically demanding job. But to base fitness on waist size and BMI - there are plenty of "thin" people who are not fit. Ugh.

Karen said...

Well, as always, the question with BMI is: Are they too fat and need to work out more, or are they too muscular and need to sit around watching TV? Since it doesn't differentiate between my mom and a body builder.

Zazzu said...

That police agency is turning away some potentially good candidates for a stupid reason. As long as they can complete the physical training necessary, there's no reason to exclude them. A traditional hourglass figure won't necessarily make one a better (or worse) police officer.

I wish Lisa Marie had just left it alone and let the reporters look like the idiots they are. With this lawsuit, she's sending a message that being called fat is the worst thing ever. God help someone who actually IS fat - they might as well just jump off the roof.

Or, maybe she's just greedy. I'd actually prefer this.