Flirting With The Law: Baghdad’s Policewomen Experiment On The Roads
In Baghdad, an experiment that sees women police officers directing traffic for the first time in years has become a target – mainly for flirtatious taxi drivers who want to take pictures.
Wearing her crisp white shirt, a hat and a dark blue skirt, Lieutenant Nasreen Aziz has been tasked with directing the traffic in central Baghdad. This is far from an easy task; the streets of the Iraqi capital are crowded, confusing and far from secure. Often vehicles belonging to government drivers or to security forces will completely ignore traffic signs and regulations.
But Aziz’ task is harder still. Standing at the Al Shaab Stadium intersection in central Baghdad, which is well known for its heavy traffic, she and another traffic warden try to control the flow of cars. But many of the drivers are slowing down, surprised to see a female policewoman on the street, in effect, making traffic even worse.
People are simply not used to seeing a woman doing this job. “But I’m happy to do this work,” Nasreen tells NIQASH. “Everything about this job is great, despite the dangers and troubles. As an Iraqi woman I am so happy to have a job like this, which allows women to take part in the field.”
This isn’t actually the first time women have been allowed to do this job. Iraq first gave women a role directing traffic in the 1970s but in the 1980s their role on the roads decreased because of security issues and the various wars that Iraq was fighting. Women ended up back in the offices, doing administrative work.
And the semi-autonomous northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan has had women directing traffic for several years already. The southern city of Basra followed suit and Baghdad is only now catching up.