The prisoners at the Guantánamo prison are Muslim men. Many of the prison soldiers who guard them are women. Until recently, their duties did not involve touching the men.
Only male guards observe men in showers or touch them during searches.
Female soldiers are now being used to shackle and escort male prisoners to and from hearings. This means, “hold the shoulder and move them along.” The prisoner is in shackles. A prisoner refused to allow a female guard to shackle him. This resulted in a “tackle and shackle” situation.
A lawyer for the detainee said, “It is not about objection to women in the military or women’s roles. It’s just about unwanted touching by women.”
The military says it has a policy of being gender neutral in dealing with detainees. There was no explanation given for why females are now being used for shackling and escort duty.
The military seeks to be sensitive to the religious needs of prisoners. An arrow pointing to Mecca is in each cell. Quiet time is observed during the five-times-daily calls to prayer. Even the feeding tubes of self-starving prisoners are adjusted during the Ramadan fasting period.
Captives can refuse to go to hearings and have done so. One observer said that some detainees in the past have used religion to draw attention to Guantánamo.
Lawyers have taken up the matter. A motion was filed to stop the use of females as escorts. Military censors redacted (blacked out) any use of the word male or female. There was no explanation for why they did this.
However, the matter will move along the court process. The reference to female guards will be restored. The question of whether to allow females to escort prisoners will be resolved in a military court.