Afghan Women Join Special Forces

Controversial move helps with night raids, especially

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff | Suggested by wd56

Posted Feb 16, 2013 4:22 PM CST

(Newser) – Afghanistan is training women to join its army's special forces and take part in nighttime raids of houses for the first time, the AP reports. Night raids are already a sensitive issue in Afghanistan, where many consider such breaches of privacy culturally offensive—but having male soldiers touch females is strictly taboo. So the newly trained female troops can corral the women and look for male insurgents hiding in women's clothing.

While Afghanistan's security forces have included women for years, some women face disapproval from relatives when trying to join the special forces. Lena Abdali, 23—who dons a traditional headscarf beneath her helmet—says she also hides her new job from family and friends for their own security. Still, she considers the job her duty: "Women must show their bravery and power by carrying out this duty as men do," she says.

In this Jan. 14 photo, a female member of Afghan special forces, right, stands guard during a training exercise on the outskirts of Kabul.
In this Jan. 14 photo, a female member of Afghan special forces, right, stands guard during a training exercise on the outskirts of Kabul.   (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)
A female member of Afghan special forces aims her pistol during a training exercise.
A female member of Afghan special forces aims her pistol during a training exercise.   (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)
A female member of Afghan special forces, center, searches a woman during a training exercise.
A female member of Afghan special forces, center, searches a woman during a training exercise.   (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)
In this Jan. 14, 2013 photo, a female member of Afghan special forces participates in a training exercise on the outskirts of Kabul.
In this Jan. 14, 2013 photo, a female member of Afghan special forces participates in a training exercise on the outskirts of Kabul.   (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)
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