Indian Navy learns from nations with women onboard warships | india | Hindustan Times
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Indian Navy learns from nations with women onboard warships

india Updated: Feb 07, 2010 15:37 IST
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Lieutenant Farah al Habshi, the weapons officer on board a Malaysian warship in Port Blair for a multinational exercise, is a case in point for the Indian Navy, which is wary of inducting women onboard its vessels.

"I have no problem working onboard with men. We have separate accommodation and I share my cabin with another woman logistics officer," said Farah looking professional in her uniform coupled with a head scarf, which is optional for Malaysian armed forces women officers.

Commander Ismail Bin Othoman, the chief of the Malaysian offshore patrol vessel KD Perak on which Farah is posted and which is participating in Exercise Milan, explained just why this was so.

"Our new ships are designed keeping in mind the future. We have cabins with attached bathrooms which give privacy to the women officers on board and to ensure that they do not have any other problems," he said.

Perak is a new generational vessel in the Royal Malaysian Navy and was inducted in July last year.

In contrast, the Indian Navy cites design problems with its ships and submarines, the principal one being lack of separate toilets, for not posting women onboard. On the positive side, it has an open mind on the subject.

A senior Indian Navy officer, after interacting with Farah, said: "Of course, her's is been an example for us to work on improving the working environment for the women onboard our vessels."

It's not that the Indian Navy does not have women officers but they are only inducted in the education, logistics, law and air traffic control branches.

Malaysia apart, the Australian Navy, which is also participating in the Milan exercise, too has separate facilities for women onboard its warships.

"Women are serving in all roles right from commanding ships to cooks. We have separate accommodation for them," said Lieutenant Commander Shane Doolin of the Australian Navy.

Thirteen navies from the Asia-Pacific region, including hosts India, are participating in the four-day Milan exercise that began on Thursday.