Iraqis Disarm, Rearm Female Police Officers

Remember the beginning of Charlie’s Angels, where the three police officers have been given “very demanding jobs” answering phones or helping children across a street? Iraq decided to relive those halcyon days of yore by recruiting female police officers and then giving them crappy jobs.

LA times article.

BAGHDAD — Iraqi police officials have dropped plans to disarm policewomen and give their guns to male officers after an outcry from critics, who said the move was a sign of religious zealots’ rising influence in Iraq.

Despite the turnabout, which police confirmed Thursday, the U.S. military general who introduced women into the police force said they remained hindered in their attempts to practice real policing skills.

Even with the revocation order, we will have to watch very closely the actions taken in regards to the remaining female Iraqi police,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. David Phillips, adding that there “are numerous ways” to drive women from the force.

That was confirmed by Hanan Jaafer, a policewoman in the Shiite holy city of Najaf who guards the revered shrine of Imam Ali.

Jaafer said none of the roughly two dozen female officers posted at the shrine had guns or uniforms, even though they searched women and children entering the complex and faced threats from the increased use of female suicide bombers. Their male counterparts are armed, Jaafer said.

The ministry’s latest decision was made as quietly as the original order to seize the weapons. The ministry announced neither, but critics complained after The Times obtained documents outlining the seizure order and reported on it.

Maysoon Damluji, a female member of parliament, raised the issue with national lawmakers in December, prompting the parliament’s Complaints Committee to seek an explanation.

In a brief response dated Jan. 17, a ministry official said that the order had been “reconsidered” and that the ministry “decided to return all the pistols” to policewomen. A ministry spokesman, Col. Saddoun Abulollah, said that few policewomen had abided by the order in the first place but that all who did had their weapons returned to them. He described their number as “a handful” of the roughly 1,000 women who have qualified as policewomen since U.S. forces introduced female recruitment efforts in late 2003.

Brig. Gen. Phillips, who launched the drive to recruit female officers and who now oversees U.S. efforts to develop the Iraqi police, said in December that he believed the decision was the result of the rising influence of Shiite Muslim conservatives who believe women should not do jobs traditionally held by men.

He denied that the ministry needed weapons for male officers, saying there were more than 8,600 weapons in police storage facilities in December and tens of thousands more en route to Iraq.

The U.S.-led recruitment effort has been languishing since the United States handed its training program over to Iraqis, Phillips said. He said the number of female recruits had dropped to virtually zero compared with early years in which hundreds of women sought to attend the police academy.

Those who completed the training often complained that they were relegated to desk jobs, Phillips said. “In my two-plus years in Iraq, I have never seen any of the over 1,000-plus female Iraqi police performing law enforcement duty,” he said.

I would have thought there were female police officers under Saddam, but according to this site, there weren’t. This is a site for enthusiasts of…women with weapons.

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.

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