US Army Chief of Staff General George Casey told the US Senate last week that the Pentagon will reassess the ban on women in the Army's infantry. He said, "I believe that it's time that we take a look at what women are actually doing in Iraq and Afghanistan and look at our policies," reported CNN.
The United States currently restricts women from direct combat roles in infantry positions or in the Special Forces. A 1994 Department of Defense directive banned women from units "whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground," reported CNN. Despite official military policy, women's participation in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has increasingly included direct combat. In contemporary warfare, there are no front lines.
John Nagl, an Iraq veteran and retired lieutenant colonel, told Agence France Presse "my best combat interrogator was a woman soldier, my best tank mechanic was a woman soldier." Army Sergeant Jennifer Hunt, who earned a purple heart in Iraq, told CNN "I do feel like I was in combat...I was engaged by the enemy when they exploded an IUD near my Humvee. You can't hit the pause button and say 'You know, I'm not supposed to be here, you know, don't shoot at me.'"
US Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced last week that the United States Navy plans to allow women on submarines for the first time. The policy will go into effect as early as mid-April unless Congress objects during a 30 day waiting period.
Media Resources: CNN 2/26/10; Agence France Presse 2/28/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 8/17/09, 2/24/10
12/9/2013 Mixed Results for Afghanistan's Anti-Violence Against Women Law - The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released their annual report on violence against women in Afghanistan yesterday, revealing mixed results of the country's Elimination of Violence against Women Law.
"A Way to Go: An Update on Implementation of the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women in Afghanistan [PDF]," found that there was a 28 percent increase in reports of violence against women from 2012 to 2013 , but only 17 percent of those were prosecuted under EVAW - a small 2 percent increase from last year.
The law, which was issued by the executive decree of President Hamid Karzai in 2009, criminalizes 22 acts of violence against women and specifies punishment for perpetrators. . . .