Woman officer marrying junior finds no takers in IAF

August 5th, 2008 - 9:17 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 5 (IANS) The controversy sparked in the Indian Air Force (IAF) after a woman officer expressed a desire to marry a junior non-commissioned officer took another twist with the Air Headquarters making it clear Tuesday that protocols would remain in place as far as social interaction among the ranks is concerned. “There will always be a protocol issue when two ranks are involved. We have completed a survey among women officers in this regard, and we need to look into the issue,” Air Officer-in-charge Personnel Air Marshal Sumit Mukerji said Tuesday.

The IAF was in a bit of turbulence after a woman Flight Lieutenant expressed a desire to marry a Sergeant, a non-commissioned officer. The strict hierarchy in the IAF made it a difficult conundrum to resolve, with protocols in place regarding the social interaction, such as in the officers’ mess and other social events.

In an organisation where social interaction between an officer and a subordinate rank, as equals, is taboo, it is indeed an uncomfortable situation for the male-dominated services.

“We understand that a Sergeant cannot come to the Officers Mess as per protocol. If he resigns or is retired, the person can come as the spouse of the officer,” Mukerji added.

Following the controversy, the Air Headquarters conducted a survey among its women officers in each air force station across the country to find out whether such a marriage should be allowed. And, if yes, what could its “consequences” be.

“The survey has been completed but I cannot comment on the responses,” Mukerji said.

The IAF currently has 784 women officers who work in all branches, barring the fighter stream.

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