At 29, Lisa Head had one of the most dangerous jobs in the world – an Army bomb disposal expert in Afghanistan.
She was among just a handful of highly skilled women soldiers trained to save the lives of countless troops and civilians by finding and disarming improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.
Displaying nerve and bravery, she took the ‘long and lonely walk’ to dismantle with her fingertips bombs that had been designed to murder and maim.
But on Monday tragedy struck. Captain Head was horrifically injured when a Taliban booby trap bomb she was trying to disarm blew up.
That’s from the online version.
She was subsequently CASEVACed to Selly Oak, Birmingham and died of her injuries there.
The front-page headline of the paper version says, “Army girl killed defusing Taliban bomb”. Captain Head was 29, an explosive ordinance expert, and held the Queen’s Commission as an Army Captain. By almost no resonable definition could she be called a “girl”.
The Daily Mail is not quite The Express – do they still use the tag-line “The World’s Greatest Newspaper”? – which is probably true by their own deranged metric.
Captain Head died doing her duty. That she is only the second British woman to die in the Afghan war is irrelevant because she was a soldier. That she was a “girl” is frankly terribly patronising. At a deeply underlying level one of the fundamental reasons we are at war in Afghanistan is the appalling sexism of the place. That, in some sense, is what NATO, male or female is fighting against. We are fighting people who don’t want girls to learn to read let alone become military officers.
At checkpoints for explosives British (and other NATO) soldiers conducting searches on the burkha-clad have had to strip to their bras because otherwise the searched wouldn’t believe “their” women were being searched by women too. I mean how can a woman carry a rifle and wear trousers? Or even that Captain Head issued orders to men! That is just how medieval the place is and that is almost the line of The Fail.
It is just part of it but not being sexist is a big part of why we ought to win.