SHAFAQNA- A Muslim police officer whose illiterate Pakistani parents came to England unable to speak much English has risen to be a detective sergeant. Marina Waka, who has been with Leicestershire Police for 15 years, has spoken about how her upbringing and her religion helped her get ahead and pursue her goals.
Mum-of-two Marina, 38, said she knew from a young age she wanted a career that would allow her to help others. Her parents came to the UK in the 1960s, unable to speak much English and unable to read or write in any language. But Marina pushed herself to achieve her goals.
Now in a temporary role as a detective sergeant, she said she was grateful to be doing a job where she can make a difference every day. She said: “Growing up it was important to me to have a balance of both British and Asian values and working as a Muslim police officer has definitely allowed me to do just that.
“Joining the police was never going to be easy, especially where I grew up. However with persistence, love and support from my parents, I joined. “Women in my culture are often considered homemakers but my parents wanted me to educate and have a career.’
“I’ve had the most amazing journey over the past 15 years and being a detective is demanding and fast paced but it’s also a role that comes with huge rewards, excitement and job satisfaction. “Our job is to investigate a crime, build a case strong enough to be heard by the criminal justice system to ensure the victims get the justice they deserve and that offenders are brought to justice.”
Marina has spent the past four years working in the force’s Child Abuse Investigation Unit, which she said was her dream job. She said: “Being a detective – there really isn’t any other job like it. Alternatively, add your email address in the sign-up bar at the top of this page. It’s that easy!
“Working in Child Abuse Investigation Unit allowed me to help give a child a voice and to listen to what they have to say – I can’t describe that feeling but I loved it. “There isn’t any other job I’d rather be doing.” Keen to embrace her religion after taking part in the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Marina opted to wear the Hijab to work a few years ago and was pleased with her colleagues’ reactions.
She said: “Being a Muslim woman is a huge part of my identity. “In 2016 after completing a pilgrimage to Mecca I decided I wanted to start wearing the Hijab. “I had never worn one before and was so worried about how my colleagues would react but despite my nervousness I felt proud of my decision as it is a symbol of who I am.
“As I walked into the police station wearing it for the first time I immediately realised there was nothing to be anxious about. “Everyone was so positive, they welcomed my new look with open arms and were so interested to learn more about my Hajj experience and the significance of the Hijab.
“I am forever learning about my faith and I am always sharing my knowledge and experiences with them – I really do see those I work with as an extended part of my family. “When I first started out in policing there weren’t many people from my background in the job. But if anything this just encouraged me even more to pave the way for other Asian women to consider policing as a career option.
“Now through our Association of Muslim Police network we work hard to ensure those from the Muslim faith continue to feel supported in the profession and we are able to help assist anyone interested in joining us through the application and interview process. “It is so important the police service is reflective of the communities we serve and those people continue to help make a real change and shape the future of policing.”