Loud chatter filled the room as ten women from the Daughters of Iraq (DoI) gathered at an old high school in Yusifiyah, south of Baghdad, to train new-hires, update information in the U.S. forces database and discuss present conditions with U.S. Army officers, June 12.
The DoI female security program, an unarmed spin-off of the Sons of Iraq, started in October 2008. They work with the Iraqi Police to search women at checkpoints in an attempt to reduce female suicide bombers and the threat of male bombers who may dress up like women.
“This is one step in the process to help eliminate suicide bombers,” said Capt. Walter Hatfield, 150th Armored Reconnaissance Squadron (ARS), about the DoI. “They do not carry weapons; their weapon is intuition.”
Female Soldiers of the 150th ARS served as training aids for the women to practice search techniques. Three DoI new-hires practiced those techniques with Sgt. Frankie Hibberd, of Company D, 230th Brigade Support Battalion.
“Tell them, remember when they came in, I searched them,â€ said Hibberd to the interpreter. “Tell them to practice on me.”
Communication during the class was more visual than vocal as Hibberd used animated facial expressions and hand gestures to break language barriers when the interpreter was busy.
The women were entertained as she drew a question mark in the air to explain questioning suspects with large sums of money and the women gasped when Hibberd pulled out a small knife that a trainee missed during her mock search.
Hadia Hamwed Alwan, a DoI widow whose husband was killed by an insurgent bomb, smiled at Hibberd and said in English, “I love her, I love her!”
After the class, the women discussed their current status with Hatfield and Capt. Jason Bowen, from B Troop, 150th ARS. Hatfield and Bowen are negotiating with the Iraqi Police to extend the DoI’s contract from June 30 to December.
“Although the program is well appreciated, these women have been working for three months and want to know when they will be paid,” said Entasar Yosif Yakoub, the manager of the 55 DoI workers in that area.
According to Hatfield, the change of command and misplaced paperwork is the cause of the pay issues for the women. Most of them are divorced or widows with children and are the sole providers for their households.
The women’s workday is from 7 a .m. to 6 p.m., three days a week, 15 days a month and they are paid about $250 a month. Yet, most of them have not received any pay since they started, said Yakoub.
It’s a great concern officials are working on. Another concern is what will happen to the women after their DoI employment.
Hatfield asked Yakoub to attend the weekly community meetings and push for women’s rights, giving the women another course of action after DoI.
“Start attending the weekly community meetings now to push women’s rights, discuss medical needs and education so the women can get into these fields once DoI comes to an end,” said Hatfield.
At the end of the day, the DoI expressed their concerns to listening ears. Just a few years ago these women walked behind their men carrying loads. Now as DoI, they stand behind their country by seizing weapons and helping to keep their streets safer.
“You are helping to protect your community and families; this is a good thing you all are doing here in Yusifiyah,” Hatfield said as he addressed the women.
“I joined the DoI to support my kids and to help all of Iraq become safer,” said Hozei Jasim, one of the new trainees.
By Spc. Ruth McClary
30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team