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    Female Marines bond with Afghan women, children

    AFGHANISTAN

    05.05.2012

    Story by Cpl. Kenneth Jasik 

    Regimental Combat Team 6

    MUSA QA’LEH DISTRICT, Afghanistan – It’s common in Afghan culture for men to refrain from talking to women they aren’t related to.

    To respect Afghan culture, female Marines have risen to the task of communicating with an otherwise unreachable part of the population.

    Marines with Female Engagement Team 1, 1st Marine Division (Forward) talk to Afghans in the Musa Qa’leh district, and learn about local perspectives on International Security Assistance Forces.

    “We help get a better understanding of the area and help influence the population,” said Cpl. Mallory R. Ortiz, a FET member with Team 1.

    The FET opens up more opportunities to gain support of the population.

    “Being a female, the biggest advantage is instead of having access to only 50 percent of the population, as males do, we have access to 100 percent,” said Ortiz, 22, from Medford, Mass. “We can talk to males, females and children. With cultural sensitivities, males cannot approach females and sometimes children.”

    Although they mostly stay at home, women in Afghan society know a lot about the area through their local observations and what news they hear from their relatives.

    “Women out here have a different perspective than the males,” said Cpl. Amber L. Fifer, a FET member with Team 1. “Males work all day and go to the bazaar, but the women hear from the men and children and know what is going on.”

    FET 1 arrived in Musa Qa’leh March 30, and has significantly impacted what Marines know about the local area.

    “Information we’ve learned so far has been deemed extremely valuable,” said Fifer, 20 from Parker, Calif. “All the information we gained has come through women and children we’ve talked to.”

    FET members say learning information is not difficult once the team builds relationships.

    “The people in the Musa Qa’leh district area are always excited to talk to us,” said Ortiz. “Men have no problem having us approach their wives or speak to their families. We’ve even been told that they want us to teach their families about our lives and what we do.”

    The two Marines with FET 1 know their work is making a difference and enjoy the opportunity they have to directly support the infantry.

    “Out here, this provides us with an opportunity that female Marines would otherwise never get the chance to do,” said Fifer. “We are in support of an infantry unit and do what we have to, so they can get the information they need.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 05.05.2012
    Date Posted: 05.05.2012 06:41
    Story ID: 87953
    Location: AF

    Web Views: 1,190
    Downloads: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN