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So it was only in the 1990’s that the Indian army started accepting women officers into the regular army. Now being a civilian myself who comes from a civilian family, this was not something that I really dwelled upon. But then last week I came across this statement by an American Marine Captain Katie Petronio. She says that women should not be put in combat and also that integrating women into the Marine Corps will result in, “a colossal increase in crippling and career-ending medical conditions for females.”
You can read the whole article here. Now this got me thinking and also googling.
It was only last year in October that the Indian army recruited the first ever woman Jawan. However, this news was tempered by the postscript, which clearly stated that she would only be part of the Territorial Army for now and was a long way off from any sort of combat duties. A little more reading revealed that women officers are made to retire at 14 years, which cripples them professionally as officers are eligible for many ben only after 18 years. I am of course not talking about the medical corps where women have served ably in various posts for very long years.
My husband, an army brat himself says that he has friends, daughters of army officers who chose to join the army as well. However when you compare that to the sons of army officers who choose to do so the number is not much to talk about. So it looks like the Indian Army is not always the first choice for a career for a woman, despite having grown up within its folds. (Would love to hear from female army kids on whether this is true or not and why.)
Today when a woman police officer is hardly a rarity, why is it that no one talks about women in combat? It’s not like we don’t have a history of women in combat.
As early as 1943, the Indian National army had an all women regiment named the Rani of Jhansi regiment led by a woman as well. And Indian history is littered with the names of women who stood side by side with the men on battlefields. So what made it change?
Or is it simply that there are not enough women out there who would like to join the army at all?
Which come to think of it is not a bad thing considering we have more than enough warmongers out there!
What do you think?
Shweta Ganesh Kumar is a Novelist, Award-winning Blogger and Founder-Editor of The Times
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