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[英伦广角] 2015-12-26 巾帼不让须眉 英国女兵将受训上前线

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In the 21st century, there are few things that British women are stopped from doing. But certain roles on the front line have remained off limits. It’s not the same everywhere, even the Kurdish Peshmerga have both sexes fighting side by side in Iraq. But within a year, it could all change with women in the U.K. armed forces. Fitness expert Lucy Wyndham-Read was in the army her five years and thinks it’s about time.

“I think women should have the same choice as men. And if it is their choice, they want to be on the frontline, and if they pass all the tests, then they should be allowed to be on the frontline. The majority of women do not have as much upper body strength as men. But we are talking about the average. There are some women that can be exceptionally fit, exceptionally strong, and they are trained for it. And then they are not the average, so they would have the capability. And in many cases actually they can be stronger than a lot of men.”

A review into the policy will conclude in the middle of next year. But the Prime Minister has asked the Ministry of Defense to get ready to allow women to take on the roles.

“Some frontline jobs have been opened to women for the past two decades, for example as medics or in the artillery or the engineers. But what’s been proposed now would leave no role of limits including close combats.”

There are currently 15,550 women in the U.K. regular forces, that’s 10% of the total number. And it stands 94% of RAF roles are open to women, 78% in the Royal Navy and Marines, and just 71% of army posts. The changes will allow women to take on jobs in the Royal Marines, the infantry, the household cavalry and the Royal armored corp. But not everyone with a military past is convinced it’s the right thing.

“I still have some nervousness about women in the infantry and in the Royal Marines. Well, you know, they have to actually advance on the enemy, climb into a trench and fight and kill each other, not because there aren't some women who can do that but I think in general terms, when you are looking at averages, women only have one third less upper body strength.”

In the garrison town of Colchester in Essex, home to the military as far Barracks Roman times, the majority were in favor.

“I think it’s a good idea, because I think it’s stupid that women can’t do the same thing as men.”

“I don’t think women should be brought on the frontline presently, because I think, then I think the men will try to look after the women rather than look after themselves. So it puts them in jeopardy.”

Training is likely to start as early as the autumn. It’ll be one of the biggest shake-ups in British military history. But it seems for most the time seems right.

Emma Birchley, Sky News, Colchester.
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