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U.S. trains Iraqi women to find female suicide bombers

  • Story Highlights
  • Halfway through 2008, the number of female suicide bombers is 20
  • "Daughters of Iraq" trains Iraqi women to find female suicide bombers
  • Women will work two or three days a month, making up to $300
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YUSUFIYA, Iraq (CNN) -- Female suicide bombers, who often slip through security checkpoints untouched because of cultural norms, are taking a more deadly toll than ever across Iraq.

But the U.S. Army has created a solution with "Daughters of Iraq," a program that trains Iraqi women to find female suicide bombers.

Women carried out eight bombings in all of 2007, according to the U.S. military. Halfway through 2008, the number of female suicide bombers is 20. A suicide attack carried out by a woman on Sunday in Baquba killed at least 16 people and wounded another 40.

"Daughters of Iraq" is a spinoff of "Sons of Iraq," which employs Iraqi men to run checkpoints and is credited with taking much of the steam out of the insurgency.

The goal of the women's program is twofold: to protect against female suicide bombers, and to provide much-needed income to Iraqi women with few chances for employment.

In the town of Yusufiya, southwest of Baghdad, some 30 women are being trained to search other females at security checkpoints -- something men are forbidden to do under Iraqi cultural norms.

In mid-May, a female suicide bomber killed an Iraqi army officer in this town.

"When he came out to meet her to help her with a problem she was having, she detonated the vest and killed him and injured some of his soldiers," said Michael Starz, a U.S. Army captain.

The women will work two or three days a month, making up to $300, an Iraqi military officer explained to applicants. In a community, where families struggle to survive, that's good money. Video Watch how "Daughters of Iraq" works »

The women come from small farming communities. Many of them are widows with numerous children and almost no income.

Such is the story of Fawzia, who has six children to support. Her husband was shot to death when his car broke down.

"I am ready (to work) as long as it helps me financially," she said. "I have five children in school."

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Having women work in this tradition-bound society is a social revolution, according to Fatima, a volunteer leader, told CNN's Jill Dougherty.

"Many women would like to do it but their parents would not agree because it's a rural society and it's shameful for girls to go outside the home."

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