GDF’s pregnancy policy raises eyebrows
There are calls for the Guyana Defence Force to take a new look at its policy for its members and rework those policies in keeping with human rights and the right to choose. A prominent attorney believes the policies of the army may be outdated.
The GDF’s personnel policy is on the front burner after a decision to dismiss two female ranks after cellphone video surfaced of the two in sexually compromising positions. The incident did not take place on an army base and was not done on army time and only came to light, after another soldier went through the misplaced phone of one of the young women and shared that video with other soldiers. The GDF’s policy states clearly that ranks found to be involved in homosexual activities or practices ought to be dismissed.
But it’s not just that policy that is raising eyebrows. The Guyana Defense Force has a pregnancy policy that not too many women soldiers and retired women officers are too fond of.
Under that policy, the Guyana Defence Force makes it clear that all female soldiers will be permitted a maximum of two (2) pregnancies during military service. In plain English, if you are a woman and you are in the army, you can only become pregnant twice and even if there is a medical complication that may have forced abortion or may result in the woman losing the child, that is still counted as a full pregnancy.
Additionally, the GDF’s policy dictates too, that the pregnancies must be two years apart and a woman could only become pregnant the first time after serving 2 full years.
But hold up, there’s more. If a woman joins the Guyana Defence Force and she already has 2 or 3 children, The GDF prohibits her from having any more children while serving. That’s according to the policy. However if she only has 1 child upon enlistment, she’ll be permitted one other child while serving but only after serving 2 years.
The GDF has made some adjustments to the policy. A female rank could have faced dismissal for breaching the pregnancy policy. That has changed. Now, if a woman soldier becomes pregnant before the 2 years service requirement, she will be granted 28 days sick leave after delivery and an additional 2 months leave. But the additional 2 months leave is NO PAY LEAVE.
And that’s not all, by breaching the pregnancy policy, a female soldier will also face a one year deferral in her intended promotion. If the father of the child is a military rank, he will be sanctioned for contributing to the breach of the policy.
If after breaching the first 2 year service before becoming pregnant rule, a female rank becomes pregnant again before a 2 year break, she will face another deferral by one year in her promotion. And with two years deferral in promotion she will face dismissal from the Guyana Defence Force for not being able to advance in rank.
A retired female officer told Capitol News, that she thought the rules would have changed by now. She said, just before she retired from the force a few years back, she raised concerns about the pregnancy policy and how sexist it is, since while it restricts women from having more than two children while serving the military, male soldiers are not held to the same standard. There have been efforts to change the rules the retired officer said, but from all the appearances that has not taken place except for a few minor changes governing dismissal.
Military analysts say rules like the ones the Guyana Defence Force have, are outdated and should have no place in a modern defence force that ought to not discriminate on the basis of sex or sexual orientation. One serving Officer said, while the top brass of the force preaches that there is no discrimination, the force’s policy encourages discrimination.