Female body search - the problem of gender

Place Africa: Somalia
Accession Number ART90105
Collection type Art
Measurement 662 mm (H) x 840 mm (L) x 46 mm (D)
Object type Work on paper
Physical description pencil on paper
Maker Gittoes, George Noel
Place made Australia: New South Wales, Sydney, Bundeena
Date made 5 March 1993
Conflict Period 1990-1999
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC

Depicts Corporal Julie Baranowski, Australian Military Police, involved in a body search for hidden weapons on a Somali woman. Gittoes' notes; '...Julie was requested to search the women. The Marines suspected male Somalis had begun hiding their weapons beneath their women's garments - aware the UN forces were not prepared to go against Islamic custom by letting male soldiers do searches of women. A riot almost broke out, however, when Julie began feeling beneath the garments of a Somali woman. Things got quite nasty until someone amongst the MPs realised the Somalis thought Julie was a man. To Somali men, a woman soldier is unthinkable. It was only when Julie took her helmet off and showed the angry crowd her long blonde hair, they began to believe this foreign soldier really was a woman'. Corporal Julie Baranowski was with UNOSOM, Royal Australian Regiment, 1st Battalion; Military Police, 1st RAR.

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