Posts Tagged ‘afghan women’
Story by Staff Sgt. Nestor Cruz
The woman walked into the garden with small, careful steps and the help of a cane. The people gathered there greeted her with applause as she slowly made her way to a chair.
Muzhgan Masoomi survived a brutal attempt on her life. The 22-year-old was on the way to work at the Ministry of Public Works in the early morning hours of March 28. A man wielding a large knife attacked Masoomi and her sister. The sister received minor stab wounds but Masoomi took the brunt of the attack.
Advisers from the 439th and 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadrons recently taught a class to four Afghan air force female personnel about the importance of using self-defense to escape a violent situation.
The training prepared the female students physically and mentally for what they could experience if placed in a dangerous scenario. The students learned that true self defense is more than just personal protection and learning a set of techniques to escape from an attacker.
Thirteen Afghan women received life-saving first aid training at a provincial women’s development center shura held in Paktya province, Nov. 1.
U.S. servicemembers assigned to the Paktya Provincial Reconstruction Team and the Nebraska Agribusiness Development Team, both located on Forward Operating Base Goode, taught the women how to treat burns, lacerations and abrasions.
U.S. Air Force medics Tech Sgt. Rebecca Rose, with the ADT from Coleridge, Neb., and Staff Sgt. April DeLuna, with the PRT from San Antonio, conducted an interactive training program for the women.
During the one-hour course, the medics emphasized proper hygiene techniques such as hand washing and the use of gloves while treating wounds.
“The women learned the ‘cold, clean’ method,” DeLuna said. “They’d never heard to clean with cold, clean water and were using alternative methods to treat wounds.”
The women shared stories about their previous home-medical treatments during the shura.
“I’ve used cold potatoes on my children’s wounds to stop the burning,” one student said. “Potatoes and egg yolk both help to prevent the burn from spreading.”
Along with l training, the group also received first-aid medical kits, stocked with bandages, a gauze compress, gloves, antibiotic ointment and other supplies.
The shura was coordinated through Khalema Khazan, the Paktya Director of Women’s Affairs and the Team Paktya Women’s Advocacy Group.
The DOWA is an Afghan ministry-appointed position, with the authority and obligation to raise awareness of concerns and advocate for Afghan women.
“I want a common understanding for every woman to know their rights and freedoms under Islam,” Khazan said. “We have shuras in the women’s development center for Paktya women to teach them important skills.”
In the past, Khazan has organized town meetings, or ‘shuras,’ health workshops and media engagements for women in Paktya.
“Education is very important,” she added. “Our center is focused on teaching the more than 40,000 women in Paktya.”
The Female Engagement Team with 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, is enhancing the ability to gain intelligence from an untapped resource: Afghan women.
“Our mission is to go where the men can’t,” said Sgt. Shanequa Cardona, a team leader with the FET of 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment. “Because of their customs, it is seen as inappropriate for women to talk with men who live outside their home.”
“Without the FET we would have no way to engage the female populace,” said Capt. John Intile, the commander of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment. “In some cases we get different perspectives and points of view on things.”
“The women have a lot of concerns about their children’s education and medical needs,” said Spc. Christina Alvarado, a FET member with 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment
Not only do the Afghan women have different points of view on things but sometimes they are more willing to talk.
“The men are targets of intimidation tactics; the women might talk because they don’t have those pressures,” Intile said.
The job isn’t as easy as just going in to talk to the women. An Afghan Uniformed Police officer will go in and secure the premises, then tell the women to all go into one room and if there are men in the home the AUP will question them.
“The men don’t want the females to talk to us,” Alvarado said, “sometimes they will hover around and try to take over the conversation and that can be frustrating.”
“It’s challenging to try to get the women to feel comfortable with us and trust us enough to give us good information,” Cardona said.
It’s important to gain a good rapport with the women because they are more likely to confide real information instead of the bland answer that everything is fine within the community, said Hayda Azizi, an interpreter who works with the FET.
“I try and show them that I’m a wife and mother, just like them,” Cardona said. “I carry a family photo that I pass around for them to see.”
“Our interpreter plays a huge role; we would be useless without her,” Alvarado said. “She really knows how to get in and talk to the women and make them feel more comfortable.”
Even with some difficulties, the FETs have proven their effectiveness.
“We have seen great success when we use FETs; they are like any other enabler, you just have to realize how to utilize them properly,” Intile said.
Photos and Story by Sgt. Ruth Pagan