Women in Combat Role
TOPIC: General Studies 3
In News: Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said there are women officers engaged in exercises like mining and de-mining operations and also manning the air defence system, but cited difficulties in assigning them frontline combat roles.
- In frontline combat there are risks of officers getting killed. And when body bags come back, our country is not ready to see that.
- Right now, what we are engaged in right now is a proxy war, like in Kashmir.
- There are also logistical reasons behind not posting women on frontlines. (Separate changing rooms, bathrooms, quarters, etc.)
Issue: Women currently serve in a variety of combat units, from aviation and co-ed border-security battalions, to battlefield medicine and air defense. But front-line, direct-combat ground units, still employ only men.
Although the Indian Air Force in July last year inducted three women – Mohana Singh, Avani Chaturvedi and Bhawana Kanth – as the first female fighter pilots. The Indian Navy has also offered permanent commission to women officers. In 2016, it started with a modest group of seven and vowed to expand the numbers.
The Indian Navy is currently deliberating on a policy on having women onboard the ships. The Navy allows women in various other segments including in legal, logistics, naval architecture and engineering departments.
Arguments: Against women in combat roles
- On average, men are taller and heavier than women. They have stronger bones, ligaments and tendons, greater muscle mass, and better oxygen carrying capacity. Women are approximately two-thirds as strong as men in the lower body and half as strong in the upper body.
- Since women in combat are prone to injuries at double the rate of men, integrated units will invariably suffer from higher attrition, and increased evacuation efforts will also take their toll. A significant increase in disability compensation for injured women veterans is also a consequence to consider.
What does the Indian army have to say?
- Firstly, they will start with women as military police jawans. The roles of military police include policing the cantonments and Army establishments, prevent breach of rules and regulations by soldiers, maintaining movement of soldiers as well as logistics during peace and war, handling prisoners of war and extending aid to the civil police whenever required.
- The army does require continuity and permanency in certain fields and male officers do not fit the bill everywhere in a command-oriented Army. The force needs language interpreters given that military diplomacy is gaining currency. So, they are looking at women interpreters who will naturally be linguistically proficient and militarily sound.
Women IPS officers are also working in very dangerous circumstances and they command respect of their male counterparts and subordinates, even from those who are from rural areas. Therefore, the arguments need to be relooked into.
Also, a study from both sides of the topic is imperative to take a final call. There is no argument that points that physiologically, physically and psychologically, men are superior to women. This does not warrant discrimination on facts that have not been proven yet.
Note: Only countries such as Germany, Australia, Canada, the U.S., Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, Norway, Sweden and Israel have allowed women in combat roles.
Connecting the Dots:
- For every frontier touched or broken by women that frontier should be sustained with more and more women. Discuss.
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