Germany has reportedly scrapped plans to introduce new ranks for women serving in its armed forces after they came under fire from female troops.
It emerged last week that the defence ministry had drawn up plans to introduce feminine forms for most military ranks.
Under the proposals, a woman serving as a petty officer in the German navy would have become a Bootsfrau, or Boatsoman, while a female army major would have become a Majorin.
But Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the defence minister, has quietly shelved the plans, according to German press reports.
The move comes after they were widely ridiculed by female troops, who said they were discriminatory and a distraction from more urgent issues such as equipment shortages.
“Female ranks? With the defence budget, armaments projects, equipment issues, and operations in Iraq and the Mediterranean, the minister is currently busy with a number of important issues. She will address the issue of ranks in due course,” Peter Tauber, a junior defence minister, tweeted this week.
But according to a report in Spiegel magazine, he told MPs at a closed door meeting session of the German parliament's defence committee that the plans have been dropped.
Sources close to Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer have been briefing the German press that the proposals had nothing to do with her.
The German military’s equal opportunities commissioner has long campaigned for female ranks to be introduced.
Like French, German is a gendered language, with masculine and feminine forms for most professions, but military ranks have traditionally existed only in the masculine form.
But the proposals encountered heavy opposition, and the slogan “Gendered ranks have nothing at all to do with emancipation” was widely shared on social media.
They were also flatly rejected by the German Armed Forces Association, which warned troops were more concerned at equipment shortages.
“Initiating this sort of gender debate gives the troops the impression the ministry has lost all regard for the needs of our soldiers who are plagued by shortages,” André Wüstner, the head of the association said.