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'Shorter' women can join Spain's police force, says Supreme Court

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By AP  with Euronews
Women needed to be at least 1.60 metres tall to join Spain's National Police Corps.
Women needed to be at least 1.60 metres tall to join Spain's National Police Corps.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File

Spain’s Supreme Court has condemned a "discriminatory" rule that prevented shorter women from joining the country's police force.

Women who want to join the National Police Corps must meet a minimum height requirement of 1.60 metres (5.2 feet). Men meanwhile must be at least 1.65 metres (5.4 feet) tall. 

A young female police candidate had complained to Spain's top court after she was rejected from the force in 2017 for being just 6 centimetres (2 inches) too short.

The plaintiff argued that the rules favoured men because just 3% of Spain's male population do not meet the height requirement, compared to around 25% of Spanish women.

In a statement on Monday, Spain's supreme court said that height requirements must take into account the average height for each sex.

The average height of Spanish men and women -- aged between 20 and 49 -- is 1.74 metres and 1.63 metres respectively.

Judges also said that the National Police Corps had not justified its height requirements for candidates.

"Within the police structure, there are many functions that require no special physical condition and even less a tall stature," the court said.

Spain's police force has now been ordered to employ the female candidate -- provided she passes her exams -- and pay her the same as other women who joined in 2017.

In 1979, 42 university-educated women were the first to become Spanish police officers. 

Today more than 9 thousand women are officers, a figure that represents 14.8% of Spain's entire police force.