The Ministry of Defence have announced that female soldiers will not be allowed to fight on the frontline, after a review into whether servicewomen should be allowed to engage in hand-to-hand combat with the enemy.
Women have always been banned from serving in units whose job is to ‘close with and kill’ the enemy, and yesterday the government rejected plans to quash the existing rules. The ban is based on the grounds that male soldiers are more likely to risk death to try to save a wounded female comrade instead of fighting on.
Defence minister Andrew Robathan said the 18-month review had found "no evidence to show that a change in current policy would be beneficial or risk-free".
With 70% of all posts in the Army open to women, female soldiers can find themselves on the frontline and extremely close to the enemy while serving as medics, intelligence specialists, artillery spotters, logisticians or signallers. However, women are banned from all infantry battalions and Royal Marine Commando units, including special forces and other armoured units.
However, the ban has not stopped women from being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan die to roadside bombs – in fact, seven women have been killed in the conflicts, making up 2% of the total fatalities.
An MoD source said: "The key issue is the potential impact of having both men and women in small teams. Under the conditions of high-intensity close-quarter battle, team cohesion becomes of much greater importance, and failure can have far-reaching and grave consequences. We are not talking about barring women from the frontline. This is about those small teams who fix bayonets and grenades and charge into a bunker to kill the enemy."
We want to hear your thoughts – should women be banned from fighting on the frontline?
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