"Because in Cyberspace, no one can hear you scream."
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
(CS Monitor) [A]t Station No. 9 in Karaj, west of Tehran, a small unit prides itself on being like few others: the only squad of women firefighters in the Middle East.
Not every rescue requires a feminine touch. But in the Islamic Republic, which tolerates little public mixing of the genders, the 11 women here are breaking new ground and creating a model for cities across the country.
In a nation known for enforcing religious law down to the letter this comes as a surprise as firefighting is generally left towards men, especially in places like Saudi Arabia and even in small communities of the United States. Although these woman have to wear the head scarf underneath, they are tough and go through exactly the same training as their male counterparts.
(CS Monitor) "Physically we can manage it, we don't think we are anything less [than the men]," says Zeinab Karimi. Her father's tales of his work as a firefighter shaped her as a girl. When ads for the positions appeared, he mentioned them to Karimi, who had never thought she'd fight fires herself. "We believe in our abilities."
Those abilities are honed by training the same way as the men's, rappelling down a multistory training wall, jumping from heights, carrying the injured, and finding escape routes. Members of the unit have long experience with competitive sports, and their daily routine includes 30 minutes of vigorous exercise.
Iran exposes these women to the same emergencies as it does the men, and in some cases they have provided aid where a man might have caused some "uncomfort" in the Shia society. Hopefully these women will continue to not only inspire but influence change within Iran, and encourage equality in a state that only recognizes women as semi-human.
Image Credit: Scott Peterson/Getty Images, photo from CS Monitor
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