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Should women fight on the frontline?

DEBATE: Should women fight on the frontline?

Each week we ask two writers with contrasting opinions to answer the question...

YES
KIRAN KAUR

Women have as much right as men to fight on the frontline. If there is equality between men and women within offices during the working day, then why not on the frontline considering it’s a career for many - discrimination should be non-existent.

The same working rules should apply and both men and women should feel equally comfortable.
Some may argue against women being frontline troops, stating that stress can lead to sexual frustration and therefore act as a distraction from the job.

This goes beyond undermining women and equally undermines men. It also evokes the old argument: can men and women be friends? This is an irrelevant and completely insignificant discussion within society today. Men and women’s ability to work alongside one another should not be questioned and if it is, it doesn’t say much about the human race.
Women have always been banned from serving in units whose job is too ‘close to the kill’.  

As a young woman, I feel frustrated and offended by this fact. I hate that women are viewed by some as a hormonal bubble of emotion whereby, if they were placed on the frontline, would begin to edge away and perhaps even hide behind their male colleagues. This is wrong. Women are equally as emotionally stable as men and in some cases, even more so. Statements suggesting otherwise are demeaning.

The average Joe can’t fight on the frontline, a number of physical tests have to be carried out beforehand. If a woman ‘proves herself’ by successfully completing the series of tests, then why shouldn’t she be representing our country? The biological make-up between a man and a woman then becomes irrelevant.  

Personally I think it would be a credit to Britain’s military. In a world where countries still undermine and devalue women to the extremes, it would show we have power and strength through equal opportunities.

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NO
ELIOT GOWARD

War is never something to be taken lightly. As a Royal Marine Cadet I learned from and grew up with many past, present and future infantry soldiers – some of which have given their arms, legs and even their lives in battle. They are the source of my passion regarding military issues such as this one.

I appreciate that there are many physical tests that women must pass in training, proving themselves physically capable as soldiers – but then why should military integration be any different to domestic work equality?

Well, military society in a warzone is rather different to the peaceful coexistence we have in the UK. Male soldiers simply don’t perform as happily, productively or safely when there are women in their units. A Ministry of Defence report recently concluded that cohesion in units on combat operations was greater when ‘there were fewer women present’.

In 2010, 50 percent of all females in the US military academies reported being sexually harassed. This astonishing figure from the Department of Defense shows a huge problem with male-female military coexistence that the armed forces simply cannot ignore. They must instead prioritise the vast, combat-ready male majority and sacrifice the minority: women.

I must also point out the impracticalities of actually having female soldiers in a warzone. Pregnancy, for instance, has become a huge problem in military units over recent years; the withdrawal of 200 pregnant British troops in the Iraq and Afghan conflicts seriously affected our ‘battle-readiness’ as well as being strictly against orders.

For instance, the British soldier who went into labour in Afghanistan (shortly after a huge Taliban attack on her base which destroyed aircraft and killed 2 troops) clearly endangered the medical response team who had to fly in to her rescue.

There have also been incidents where male troops have suffered fits of uncontrollable aggression when seeing a woman injured.

This is an awful strain on what are already battle-worn troops and is the last thing our military heroes need.

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