Author`s name Olga Savka

Women in the Army

Russian army can not give much to women, whereas the situation in the American army is different

The reform of the Russian army will start the next year - the process to make the army professional will last until 2007. According to defense ministry officials, every fourth Russian solder will serve on a contractual basis. Women are not an exception in this respect: they will have to serve under strict conditions, because certain paragraphs of the law for the protection of family and motherhood will be cancelled for them. A pregnancy will be considered a breach of the contract.

Are there many Russian women that wish to serve in the army? According to experts' estimates, there are few ideologically determined individuals among the women that serve on the base of a contract. Most often, they join the army because of financial difficulties: they can not find a job, they have no money to grow their children, they have no place to live, and so on and so forth. Yet, the Russian army can not give a lot to women. The service in peacemaking troops is considered to be the most profitable, but it is hard to get there. The army needs women with medical education, whose state of health allows them to serve. However, a wish to serve in the army is most often expressed by teachers, engineers and accountants.

Sociologists of decided to find out Russian people's attitude to women in the army. As it turned out as a result of an opinion poll, the majority of people (41 percent) have a neutral opinion about the issue, 30 percent said, their attitude to it was positive, and 28 percent expressed their negative thoughts. One percent of respondents did not know what to answer to this question. It also became known that the majority of Russians in the Far East region strongly dislike the idea of women in the army. Countryside respondents often gave positive answers to the question in comparison with the people that reside in large cities - 36 percent vs. 22 percent respectively. Only 29 percent of female respondents expressed a positive attitude to women's army service, although there were more men that had the same opinion - 32 percent. The majority of military men (47 percent) positively estimated the problem as well. Speaking about Russian people's political preferences, 32 percent left-oriented and 25 percent right-oriented people said, they did not approve women's service in the Russian army.

Very few women in the Russian army have the rank of a general. There are more than 50 women in the US Army that have the title of a general or an admiral. In general, the story of American women conquering the American army is rather interesting and instructive. The Center of Defensive Information said, women comprise 14.4 percent of American officers and 14.7 percent of American privates and corporals - this is one of the highest indexes in the whole world. There are more female officers in the US Army than black officers.

According to WPF, American women obtained a right to serve in military forces in 1901, when an army corps of hospital nurses was formed. The highest military title that they could get was the title of a colonel. It is also curious that American women were legally allowed to serve in the army 20 years before they were allowed to participate in elections.

The attitude to women in the armed forces changed during WWII, when a lot of American women took part in military actions, periodically substituting men. Before the beginning of the 1960s, when several laws were passed in the USA to equate women in their rights with men, women could not achieve the top of the military career. In 1967, the US Congress passed the law, which gave women a right to serve up to a general and an admiral. However, only in 1970 the law was practiced for the first time, when Anna May Hayes, an Army Nurse Corps Colonel became a Brigadier General.

In 1971, women comprised 1.6 percent of all military people. Their number increased up to 8.5 percent already by 1980. The share of women representing racial and national minorities is rather high among females in uniform. In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed a decree, which obliged the American Air Force Academy, the American Military Academy and the Naval Academy to accept women. The first 217 women finished military academies in 1980, and the best graduate of the United States Naval Academy in 1984 was a woman.

On the other hand, ladies can not take part in about 30 percent of army activities. Women can not be marines, tankers, submariners - they can not serve in any troops that conduct military operations in a direct contact with the enemy. For example, women are allowed only to 20 percent of professions in the Marine Corps. It is generally believed, such a restriction exists because of an increased level of risk that a woman will be subjected to, if she is taken a captive.

Acts of sexual aggression on the part of males make up a very serious problem connected with women's army service. In 1980, two-thirds of military women had to deal with such displays of men's attention. The US Defense Department conducted massive inquiries in 1988 and 1995 to develop a strategy to fight that evil. In 1988, 64 percent of women said, they encountered acts of sexual violence, but their number reduced in 1995 to 55 percent. During a recent poll this year, 30 percent of female veterans of the US Army confessed that they had been raped or experienced an attempted rape during their army service. Five hundred and six women took part in the poll in total. Some women said that they had suffered from sexual abuse during their service in the army. More than 54 percent of women complained of a negative sexual experience, and more than 30 percent of them were raped on one or even several occasions.

Opinion polls in the USA periodically show that the American society has a positive attitude to the issue of army service for women. For example, Gallup found out in one of its polls in 2002 that 77 percent of Americans think it is necessary one should allow women pilot battle planes, 73 percent said that they would like female submariners to appear, and 63 percent said that women could serve in the troops that operate in the enemy's rear.