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Friday, January 16, 2009

An Unusual SAR Team

While doing a Google search with the key words, "women in search and rescue," I came across something I sure didn't expect--a team made up entirely of women but for what is, to me, a "foreign" reason. The title of the article says it all: "Pakistan: Only Women Can Rescue Women." Huh?

The all-female team is part of a Search & Rescue program for Focus Humanitarian Assistance, an emergency-response group affiliated with the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of international private agencies working to improve living conditions and opportunities in the developing world. These women train for alpine rescues in the land that's home to five of the world's highest peaks, including 28,250-foot K2. Three of the world's greatest mountain ranges — the Himalayas, Karakoram Range, and Hindu Kush — are located in this region, where avalanches, landslides, tremors, and earthquakes are a regular part of life.

In the Marie Claire article, Jan Goodwin writes:

"That Pakistan has female search-and-rescue workers is in itself remarkable. This is a country, after all, in which arranged marriages, jail sentences for rape victims, honor killings, and dowry burnings (when a bride is burned to death by her husband if her dowry is not large enough) are common. In Baluchistan, one of the country's four provinces, many residents abide by the maxim that a woman should leave her home only three times in her life: when she is born, when she marries, and when she dies."

Wow. I mean, imagine a place where male rescuers won't assist female children trying to escape from a burning school.

I can't relate to that.

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