Hamas has been recruiting women to join the Gaza police force ever since the group gained power. Policewomen are not combating Israeli forces; instead they will address gender-sensitive cases such as prostitution.
Trying to merge a changing role for women with religious tradition has been tricky. According to the New York Times:
"One recruit, Fatma, 27, wears only a head scarf, which leaves her face exposed. But she complained that it was hard to run in her long Islamic robe, known as a jilbab. She said that her bosses were thinking of designing a new uniform for easier movement. 'They are talking about pants, and a jilbab that is open on both sides.'"
Participation in the police force is much more positive than the increase in female suicide bombers seen in Iraq. Still, the New York Times article goes on to offer examples of how the Gaza criminal justice system fails women. To find out how,
Recent inmates included a 15-year-old girl whose family said she had been raped by her 22-year-old cousin. Four female relatives were in the jail with her, endangered by accusations that they had failed to promptly inform the head of the family of the rape and a subsequent pregnancy. The male cousin was free. The 15-year-old gave birth to a baby girl after the rape, but her brother “threw away” the newborn.
It is fascinating to discover the different ways women are impacted, as Hamas tries to bring much-needed security to the Gaza strip.