Female Iraqi police officers told to turn in their guns

Got this as part of a comment on yesterday’s post about the Iraqi government ordering policewomen to turn in their weapons (No guns for girls…go cook or something):

Trying to force them to completely accept western society’s mores will do nothing but foster resentment and resistance.

Right. Oppressing women fosters only peace and respect.

We’re not talking about a gross injustice here…this is nothing more than enforcing a standard that, up until very recent history, was the accepted norm throughout the world.

Right. Like no votes for women. In fact, only landowners get to vote. Blacks are considered subhuman animals. People rule because of which family they’re born into. All standards that were all accepted up until very recent history.

How about if black police officers in white-dominated areas of US cities were told to turn in their weapons? That would be enforcing standards that were accepted until relatively recently. Does anyone think it’s a good idea? Or, rather, does anyone who thinks it is a good idea get taken seriously by civilized people?

The standard in most of the world has been to treat women as second-class citizens with limited rights. In parts of the ME (and elsewhere) women aren’t even second-class and sometimes not even really counted as citizens.

I’m not banging the drum for women doing everything as well as a man can do it. That’s obviously not the case. And we need to be careful about places where women, due to physical differences and/or limitations, might be a liability to those around her or to the mission.

However, if you read the article I linked, women are very necessary for a number of things, including searching other women. Men can’t do it because we are NOT “trying to force them to completely accept western society’s mores.” Men can rarely do it in this country, even. So the bad guys use female suicide bombers sometimes.

And then there’s

Another U.S. advisor noted that forcing out female officers will hamper investigation of crimes such as rape, which stigmatizes women in Iraq, because few victims feel comfortable reporting it to policemen.

So this goes a lot deeper than merely limiting women to desk jobs in the Iraqi security forces. Those women are denied an opportunity that they want, as evidenced by the number of applicants when the program was first opened up to women, and the rest of Iraq’s women are potentially denied safety and justice.

In that sense, I guess, “this is nothing more than enforcing a standard that, up until very recent history, was the accepted norm throughout the world.” A pathetic standard.

Finally, by forcing them to turn in their weapons, these women are being denied their own safety. You may not have noticed it, but Iraq is a dangerous place. The police, in particular, are frequent targets. Not only does attacking and disrupting the local and national police forces aid the terrorists and insurgents, but it also makes life a lot easier for the thugs, gangs, and petty criminals that are trying to make ends meet. Lines of potential recruits at police stations are common targets, and many police officers still hide their identity for the protection of themselves and their families.

Incidentally, the article also notes that men with desk jobs with the police are allowed to keep their weapons.

Taking away the sidearms of female police officers is, in fact, a “gross injustice.”

And why aren’t womens’ rights groups up in arms about this? Did someone take away their guns, too?

UPDATE: I meant to mention that one woman with a handgun in Colorado kept a bad day from getting a whole lot worse. In a church, of all places.

Comments

  1. Guess I struck a chord there. Right. Oppressing women fosters only peace and respect. You have a very broad concept of ‘oppression.’ Your sarcastic attempt to draw moral equivalence between the violation of basic civil rights and the situation at hand are laughable. I did not say that Women may have no role in Police work, I don’t even agree that women engaged in Police work should be disarmed. But, then again, I’m not an Iraqi, so it would be pretty arrogant of me to demand that they incorporate my beliefs into their society now wouldn’t it? However, if you read the article I linked, women are very necessary for a number of things The article itself leaps to an unwarranted conclusion: They go from the initial report that policewomen are being told to turn in their weapons ‘or their pay will be withheld’ to the unsupported charge that policewomen are ‘being forced out’. If they are being forced out, what pay would they have to be withheld? That doesn’t even make sense. Nothing in the article indicated that women are being fired from the Police force. Do you need a weapon to conduct a pat down? To receive a rape report? That argument is specious. Are women capable of conducting investigations? Of interviewing witnesses? Of issuing citations? Of any number of other things involved in Police work that don’t require firearms? Of course. Should women be allowed to be regular street cops? Well, in Iraq, apparently not. In the US, our society has deemed that they should be. I’m not so sure. I would be less reticent about it if women were required to meet EXACTLY the same standards as men to qualify as street cops, but they’re not. That does not make a bit of sense to me. Does it require less strength for a woman to take down a 200 pound criminal than it does for a man to do so? If not, why are the physical standards not the same for both cops? But I digress. The bottom line is that we are not talking about a basic civil right being violated here. We are talking about a policy issue. The West has NO RIGHT to dictate a policy to Iraqis that so dramatically flies in the face of their cultural traditions. If the Iraqi people don’t want those traditions to remain in place, they will fall of their own weight, it is not up to us to make those decisions for them.

  2. Sailorcurt: Your justification of the move was that they’re just enforcing a standard that’s been traditional in much of the world until recently. I’m calling that a bullshit justification. You’re right, women aren’t being ‘forced out’ of the police. I didn’t say they were, at least officially. I only said that those who remain in the police will be at high risk. You seem to think that that isn’t, in effect, forcing them out anyway. This is sort of how I see the conversation going: ‘Terrorists, insurgents, militiamen, gang members, and common criminals frequently try to kill police officers and their families. Please turn in your gun immediately or we’ll stop paying you to come to work. You are welcome to remain on the force for as long as you wish.‘ Except, of course, in many cases they aren’t even superficially ‘welcome to remain on the force’. I love this bit: ‘Should women be allowed to be regular street cops? Well, in Iraq, apparently not.‘ How about ‘Should blacks be able to drink out of the same drinking fountains as whites or sit in the same parts of the bus as whites? Well, in the US South, apparently not.’ After all, drinking fountains and bus seats aren’t exactly ‘basic civil rights’. Why was everyone so excited about all that? Finally, no one said that you need guns to perform pat downs, receive rape reports, or fill out forms. Don’t pretend to be dense. As stated, you need guns to protect yourself. As noted, men in desk jobs get to keep their guns but women in street jobs don’t. So arguments that it’s job-based don’t much hold water.

  3. And why aren’t womens’ rights groups up in arms about this?’ Because guns are icky, is why. Although women being forced to rely solely on the protection of men strikes me as completely opposed to the progression of women’s rights, it seems the inherent ickiness of guns outweighs all other considerations. I guess…but I’m just a dumb man.

  4. I basically agree with Murdoc.. maybe it’s traditional to kick women out of their police force, but that doesn’t make it smart. These women can play an important role in fostering an atmosphere of law & order. I can see one and only one argument for rationally disallowing women from being police – that is, the concern that doing so will so erode the role of women as child bearers that they will stop having and raising children in sufficient numbers to sustain the population. I don’t know that that’s necessarily an inevitable consequence and I’d bet that this has more to do with men who are used to treating women as the lesser gender being uncomfortable when they see them doing this job. Well, I reckon that’s their problem. I don’t know about you, but seeing women taking on responsibilities like this only makes me respect them more. So, I don’t think we need to shove our beliefs down others’ throats but I don’t see why we can’t tell them when we see them doing something we think is boneheaded and wrong. In many societies women are traditionally treated as objects and treated badly. Should we defer to that? This is nowhere as extreme a case but I see some parallels.

  5. Your justification of the move was that they’re just enforcing a standard that’s been traditional in much of the world until recently. I’m calling that a bullshit justification. That wasn’t intended as a justification, it was only an observation. After all, drinking fountains and bus seats aren’t exactly ‘basic civil rights’. Why was everyone so excited about all that? I think that your idea of what constitutes a basic civil right is as flawed as your definition of ‘oppression.’ You make some excellent points about police women being able to defend themselves but that brings up some other issues: The article says that the women are being instructed to turn in their weapons to redistribute to male officers. Does this mean that there is a shortage of weapons? If so, is this an effort to get the guns into the hands of the most effective officers available? The article author seemed strangely incurious about that aspect of it. That also implies that the firearms in question belong to the Iraqi government, not the individual officers. If the officers provide their own weapons would they be allowed to carry them? How is it a violation of someone’s civil rights for the owner of a commodity (guns in this case) to determine the most efficient and effective distribution of said commodity amongst it’s employees? The fact that Muslims view the roles of women in a different light than we do may actually cause INCREASED danger to armed female officers in their culture. But we’re getting way too deep into the weeds. The bottom line…and my ENTIRE point…is that the employment and equippage policies of the Iraqi Police department are none of our business….any more than the fact that we embrace and encourage the arming of female officers is any of theirs. This is NOT a civil rights issue, it is a policy issue. We have no more right to set policy for them than they have to set policy for us.

  6. The article says that the women are being instructed to turn in their weapons to redistribute to male officers. Does this mean that there is a shortage of weapons? If so, is this an effort to get the guns into the hands of the most effective officers available? The article author seemed strangely incurious about that aspect of it. I know I’ve been waiting for the in-depth investigation in to the desperate shortages of weapons that has been plaguing Iraq for years.

  7. Okay, let me clarify some more. I’m observing that your observation of a traditional standard is an observation of a bullshit traditional standard. It’s the oppression of women in most ME societies that is bullshit. This move is part of what is an overarching oppression of women in Iraqi society. That’s why it’s bullshit. I really don’t know to explain it any simpler than that. You seem to be under the impression that, based solely upon this story, I now think that Iraqi women are ‘oppressed’. That’s just plain wrong. This story is a symptom of the oppression. Or are you suggesting that the traditional role of women in most of the ME cultures is not one of being oppressed. I don’t quite understand what you’re saying, but I’m saying that women have been oppressed and that this is another example of how. Again, I’m not sure how much clearer I can be. And then it’s now possible that women are being asked to give up the weapons because of shortages elsewhere? Possible, I suppose, but a pretty wild theory unless 90% of the story is being totally ignored and the Iraqi government refuses to state a simple and rational reason for the policy. Again, and I don’t know how to say this any clearer, men with desk jobs reportedly get to keep their guns while women with street jobs don’t. And: The fact that Muslims view the roles of women in a different light than we do may actually cause INCREASED danger to armed female officers in their culture. You forgot ‘some’. As in ‘some Muslims.’ Because, of course, some Muslims support women in this sort of role. That means that, at most, only ‘some’ Muslims can oppose it. So if it were, say, black people trying to become police officers in Alabama, it might go something like this: 1. Say that many whites in AL don’t want black police officers 2. Far more blacks apply for openings than can be accepted 3. White leadership says black officers must turn in guns or forfeit paycheck 4. Someone says it might be just because there aren’t enough guns 5. Whites get to keep their guns even if they work desk jobs 6. It’s only because Alabamans view the role of blacks differently that black officers are sometimes threatened 7. Who am I to say that there’s a problem because I don’t live in Alabama 8. The guns are Alabama property so just because AL takes them doesn’t mean that blacks are oppressed 9. After all, it’s just tradition Parse it and rationalize it all you want, I think that’s crazy. This policy isn’t occurring in a vacuum. I understand that you don’t think we should be directly setting Iraqi policy. Neither do I. I’m arguing against what I think is stupid Iraqi policy, which is different than setting Iraqi policy. If oppressing women is merely part of the Muslim tradition, I’m saying that it’s a stupid part. I’m going out on a limb by assuming that I can comment on Iraqi policy even if I don’t think I’m in charge of setting it. Maybe only policy setters are allowed to comment on policy?

  8. You have made some excellent points in this discussion and I thank you for it. Obviously I’m not capable of expressing myself in a way that makes my position clear. I apologize if I gave the impression that I was trying to say you have no right to speak on the subject. You have every right to express your opinion…just as I have every right to disagree with you. I simply do not see this policy as an egregious affront to civil liberties. You disagree. Duly noted.

  9. I agree with SC, it’s their society. If they want female police to be unarmed, it’s their business. The Palestinian Security Forces I worked with for 21 months were the same way. I don’t agree with it, but it’s not my, or America’s call to make. After all one of the key ingrediants to successful cooperation in a foreign AO is being respectful of local social, cultural, and religious values to the maximum extent possible, consistent with the mission. This is a small potatios issue anyway, considering all the other crap we’re dealing with their. There’s nothing wrong with letting the Iraqis or Palestinians know the way we do it, why, and the perceived benefits. Educating or raising the consciousness of women in that area of the world is the best way to encourage (NOT dictate) change. If Iraqi women want to campaign for equal status with their male counterparts ( in any job classification) then I say more power to them. Social change based on internal pressure, lobbying, or shifting social/cultural perceptions is far preferable and less onterous than the know it all foreigners attempting to righteously impose it.

  10. In Libya, Khadafi’s personal guard (company strength) is composed entirely of women, decked out in camo BDU’s and armed with the latest assault weaponry.

  11. Personally, I think we’d be better off paying more attention to our own business and less to the business of other countries. We have plenty of problems right here without pretending to have all the answers for someone else. Certainly that shooting in the ‘gun free zone’ of that Omaha shopping mall is a prime example. As for women being cops, I think that’s fine as long as they have to meet the same body strength requirement as men. I believe those requirements should be very stringent too. A strong person has many options against a weak person. When a weak person is attacked, their only option is generally to kill the stronger person either by use of firearms or other techniques.

  12. Female police officers are treated just as badly right here in the USA, but American women sit back and do nothing. Copyright Patriot Ledger Dec 1, 2001 Karen EschbacherThe Patriot Ledger Two Braintree police officers, both women, are suing the town for discrimination. Lt. Karen MacAleese and Officer Susan Hogan filed suit in Norfolk Superior Court alleging sexual harassment, denial of training, unfair treatment and discipline and a work environment hostile to female officers, among other claims. ‘Plaintiffs have been regularly subjected to unwelcome comments of a sexual nature, including but not limited to comments about their and other women’s bodies, and including an incident in which a fellow officer falsely reported that plaintiff Hogan was receiving certain job benefits in exchange for sexual favors,’ according to the lawsuit, which was filed in September. Both officers claim they were retaliated against after complaining about the treatment. The officers want the alleged discrimination and retaliation stopped, and the town to tell the court how police employees will be trained to prevent discrimination against women. The officers also are seeking unspecified damages and attorneys’ fees. MacAleese, the highest-ranking woman on the force, was hired in 1987. She was promoted to sergeant in 1994 and to lieutenant in October 2000 after scoring highest on the promotion exam. Hogan joined the department in 1995. Nine of the department’s 79 members are women. Hogan and MacAleese first filed complaints with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. In May, they asked that the MCAD cases be closed to move the issue to Superior Court. In the lawsuit, Hogan alleges she was discriminated against on numerous occasions, including instances when she said she was: [Table] – Barred from attending hostage negotiation training, although two male officers were sent instead. – Investigated for false and frivolous accusations. – Denied earned time off by Police Chief Paul Frazier. – MacAleese’s complaints of alleged discrimination include: – Delays in her promotion to lieutenant. – Deputy Chief John Wright questioning her use of maternity leave. – Superiors failing or refusing to require male subordinate officers to obey her orders. The suit states that MacAleese and Hogan were retaliated against after complaining about the alleged discrimination. According to the suit, Hogan was required to appear at the station after a court appearance; not given a car to use for an out- of-town court appearance; and not allowed to obtain a physical exam while on duty. The suit states that MacAleese was falsely accused of intimidating other police employees to give evidence in her favor; removed from supervising subordinate employees and from leadership of the Community Policing Program; excluded from meetings and locked out of the administration section of the police department. The suit also alleges that MacAleese’s superiors tried to stop her from discussing her allegations with other officers. MacAleese and Hogan both declined to comment, citing advice from their attorney, Wendy A. Kaplan of Boston. Kaplan did not return a call seeking comment. Frazier and Selectmen Chairman James Casey said they could not comment.