In a series of sexist comments, Indian Army chief Gen. Rawat also talked about maternity leave for women officers and separate huts for them on the frontline.
New Delhi: Weeks after he made controversial remarks that illegal immigrants must be deported from India, Army chief General Bipin Rawat has made a series of sexist comments about women in combat roles.
In an interview to CNN News 18, Rawat said women aren’t ready for combat roles because they have the responsibility of raising kids. He also said that a woman officer on the frontline would need to be cocooned separately in her hut as she might accuse jawans of peeping.
The Army chief also said that a woman officer may not be accepted by jawans, most of whom come from villages.
Rawat also said that a woman commanding officer would not be able to get maternity leave for six months from the Army, but objecting to her leave request would lead to a ruckus.
“Do I put a restriction on her to say that in that command tenure you will not be given maternity leave? If I say that, there will be ruckus created,” he said.
Rawat’s comments come months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 15 August announcement for permanent commission — service of 20 years, depending on eligibility and rank — for women officers.
The move drew some criticism, especially from serving male officers, for it meant that women would be given permanent commission without being recruited in combat roles, which involves being posted in difficult locations.
At present, about 3,700 women serve in the military on Short Service Commission (SSC).
While it’s common to see women in combat roles in militaries of other countries, India is yet to induct them in frontline units such as infantry or armoured corps.
Women serve in other capacities in the military, such as engineers, as well as other indirect combat roles, like observers and tactical operators on armed maritime patrol aircraft, among others.
The subject has been widely debated over the years, with the defence forces citing cultural and operational issues in the induction of women in combat roles.
Earlier this month, Indian Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said that his force has commissioned a study to examine ways to induct women sailors aboard ships.
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