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Pretty Women With AK-47s

It really is irritating that Iowa, which does not represent America in any real sense is taking over the news. There are no inner city slums, approx 99 percent of the population is very white, and there are towns in Iowa so uninteresting that they haven’t seen a non-political visitor since the 1800s. Then it only comes down to a matter of the few who decide to spend two hours and drive to the local high school gym to caucus and "pick a president" (the Repulican caucusers only have to spend about an hour).

Iowa has so much control over both parties, and yes, I’m one of those junkies who obssses over the polls too. But after wobbling around in my Bikram Yoga class today, then working in the library on Hunter’s interview manuscript, something caught my attention that is far more interesting than Iowa. 

The land of Gandhi and Yoga has managed to bring something new, strong and incredibly surprising to the weakened country of Liberia.  As you probably know, Liberia has been struggling with corruption, civil battles and a severe case of machoism making rape so common that it is rarely reported anymore. The police force is mainly male, and women don’t want to join because of its hideous reputaion.

Liberia has been in a state of flux witnessing two civil wars, the First Liberian Civil War (19891996), and the Second Liberian Civil War (19992003), displacing hundreds of thousands of people and decimating the country’s economy. So, as Hunter would say "When the Going Gets Weird, The Weird Turn Pro." 

Indeed. The UN has shipped in an all-woman police force. These aren’t just pretty little Indian girls. They carry AK-47s, and are highly trained in combat.

The sight of an unloading battalion of slim, trim and trained women in royal blue fatigues with blue berets marching in perfect order down the street to take their positions must be a terrible sight for a habitual rapist. Now he’s the one that’s screwed. And what a wonderful sight for those decent men who finally have some real protection for the women they love.  I’ve been VERY lucky in my life with love-affairs, and relations with men, so it is hard for me to imagine what it must be like for the women who have been less fortunate, nonetheless, this is some of the best news I’ve read in long time and I had to share it with you.

I think Hunter would have loved this for many reasons, not the least of which is that he respected women whether they carried a gun or not. We know some of his best editors were women, but most important, he loved any person to take control of her/his own environment. And these Indian women are helping Liberian women do just that.

What I understand from the BBC is that in the past, in addition to the brutal national police force, the previous UN mission in Liberia has been tainted by accusations of severe exploitation as well: such as food given to women in exchange for sex. But Joanna Foster, the gender adviser to the UN Mission says that there is less sexual exploitation when more women are employed in the police force. 

Female Indian UN troops
Their experience in northern India will stand them in good stead

"It limits the sexual exploitation that our people get involved in. In the groups that have a lot more women we get very little reporting of sexual exploitation."

Joanna Foster is also keen to send a message to those training the new Liberian military.

"I understand they are not training the women for combat but with these women coming from India they are going to be a fantastic role model. So I am going to take all of them to the ministry of defence to show them you can train women in combat."

Being half-Ghanaian and half-Indian, Ms Foster has some idea of the cultural challenge facing the Indian peacekeepers.

"Being pretty is a disadvantage here. Indian women are pretty so they are going to be whistled at and all sorts of things but they will have to take it in their stride."

You go girls!

Until next time, your friend,

Anita Thompson 

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