India’s step on allowing women to fly the jet fighters in the IAF has been seen as a welcome move by the government towards their women candidates, keeping in mind their aspirations and also to be at par with developed countries like US and even arch rival Pakistan, who already have women women flyers in their force. The latest move not only marks the maiden entry of women in combat roles in the IAF but in any branch across the Indian armed forces.Following the statements back this year by the defence minister, questioning the physical abilities of women as they were “incapable of being a part of the combat services” had received much of the criticism.
Seeing all this as an optimistic move, the question arises as to why the women members shouldn’t be allowed in the combat. The opponents of these had many points.
Prisoners of War: “Have you wondered what would happen if women become prisoners of war?” While the statement has its edge of a slightly practical picture, this factor can never be a sole reason as to why they shouldn’t be allowed. Of course there is a great possibility that if caught, they will be subjected to sexual and physical exploitation, but if people remember, Indian movements for independence got an edge only after women started being a part of it. Not to forget the contribution of sarojini naidu, who was one of her kind, moving along with mahatama to complete the salt march. Morover after the Geneva conventions following the 2nd world war, there are provisions that protect the basic human rights of a citizen, which includes protection from humiliation and misbehaviour. But since unfortunately since these rules cannot be said to have made a difference, it cannot solely be relied upon. So this topic remains controversial.
Physically less stronger : “The women cannot fight as they are physically and mentally less stronger than men”. According to many studies conducted worldwide, women and men both went through the same stress level and mental issues after firing a weapon in combat, handling human remains and witnessing death. According to another study of women and men in responses, it found that men in case of emotional stress developed “more aggressive attitude” than women, and we know aggressive attitude cause more likely the accidents and injuries to take place. Women though maybe having less muscle power, but analytical skills are an important attribute of a person in combat. Besides the women being the one giving birth to a child, how can some stereotype them being physically and mentally less weaker, when giving birth requires so much of physical and mental hardships for a women?
Women leaving the services and combat more often: This has been found to be true according to the empirical data. But until and unless we let go off the patriarchal mindset which includes having this women as the sole member to look after the family and be involved in family affairs letting go off their aspirations and dreams, how can we even expect as any other conclusion out of it?
As long as people are perceived equally and fairly in practice and training, it gets over it. There’s actually no evidence that males break down when females are injured in battle or are distracted by their fellow female warriors. As long as they go through the same rigourous practice and the armed forces are trained to protect each other regardless of what chromosome we possess. The problem comes with the stereotypes from the society as well as those already in service about female sexuality, not from facts and science, as science says an altogether different story.
A country like India who has seen women leaders like Rani laxmi bai and Bezum Hazrat Mahal fight against the egregious suppression from the Britishers, does it suit to have such an approach and mentality for women ?
In the end, they are service members first and women, second. Caliber and ability are the currencies of the armed forces. As the females are trained equally, they can prove that they can do anything fellow men can do. We need to trust the tactical and analytical abilities, until they support and aspire to be member of the combat forces and serve the country.