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July 12, 2004
Women See Progress In New Iraq

One of the subtexts of the war on terror is the liberation of women from the oppression to which radical Islamists wish to condemn them. Even in more open-minded Muslim societies such as Egypt, women have faced increasing pressure to cover themselves while in public and curtail their efforts towards economic independence. In Iraq, meanwhile, the new interim government has hired over one hundred women into highy public roles -- as police officers:

Whipping out her handgun and slamming a magazine into the grip, 20-year-old Hadeel Alwan can't wait to start catching criminals. "My biggest wish is to destroy terrorism," said Alwan, one of the youngest of Iraq's new women police recruits. "I want to go out on the streets and do everything a man does." ...

Iraq has not hired women recruits since the force experimented with the idea in the 1960s, according to senior officers, but that changed with the fall of Saddam. The U.S.-led administration, which handed powers to an interim Iraqi government on June 28, encouraged the police to start employing women when it began training the force, notorious for corruption and human rights abuses under Saddam.

About 115 women recruits have passed through the academy since U.S. forces took control of training after last year's invasion, keeping their 1,200 male counterparts on their toes.

"They shoot better than some of the guys," said U.S. Army Spc. David Dunn, 26, from Buffalo, New York.

Again, women obviously have a long way to go in Iraq to achieve equal status, but the actions of the interim government in their inclusion are admirable, and rather unthinkable under Saddam or an Islamofascist state. For one thing, they may provide a stabilizing influence within the security forces themselves, although as the abuses at Abu Ghraib proved, not necessarily. It also shows women that more possibilities have opened up for them under the liberated government, giving them a large stake in its survival. Having women enforcing the law also demonstrates Iraq's commitment to broadening its approach to human rights, a key concern among critics of the war. And note that the women are paid the same salary as the men.

Again, this looks suspiciously like real progress. I hope it receives the coverage it deserves, but I suspect most of our media will treat it as a non-event.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 12, 2004 12:16 PM

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