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22 May, 2008 01:19

Russian G.I. Janes break the mould

Women serving in the army is not new, but a unit comprising only women is something special. There's only one in the whole of the Russian forces, and it's currently serving in the Chechen Repubic.

It stays in Chechnya as a part of the 42nd division.

“I had to come here, to be able to raise my children, give them a proper education. Of course, it was also my own desire. I’ve always liked military women. The good thing is it teaches us to stand up for ourselves. We’re ready to defend ourselves at any moment,” Naida Israpilova, 42nd division officer, says.

“Women are good soldiers. They have an instinct for self-preservation and the preservation of all people. At the same time they make our life here easier and more comfortable,” confesses Aleksandr Turin, 42nd division officer.

In the 42nd division, which is the biggest in the Russian Army with 18,000 soldiers and officers, women are exempt from physical training and military exercises. But many say they do not feel discriminated against.

There are more than 80,000 Russian women in the army now. It's a sign of feminism, but others see it as a job like any other. But whatever, as some say, it is a sign of feminism, or a job like any other, as some others put it, the army seems to profit from it.