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September 23, 2013

Taliban Assassinates Top Female Police Officer, Months After Killing Her Predecessor

Great culture you've got there, Savage Animals.

Lieutenant Nigara was a well-respected officer whose work went far beyond the female body searches that fill the days of many policewomen. But today, Nigara, the top policewoman in Helmand province, died from her wounds after being shot twice on her way to work, just three months after her predecessor was assassinated in the same way by attackers who have never been identified.

The death was the latest in a campaign of assassinations, intimidation, assaults and kidnappings of prominent women around Afghanistan that has raised fears that the modest gains made by women in the last decade will be wiped out as western troops head home.

The New York Times interviewed her recently. She said she loved her job and wasn't afraid of the Taliban's bloody, actual War on Women.

In an interview this month, Lieutenant Nigara said she was undeterred by the deaths of her two colleagues. She told of living with constant death threats and in near poverty after her brother, also a police officer, was shot and paralyzed. She had been caring for him and his four children, in addition to doing her job.

“I’m living in a ramshackle house, and whenever I come back there from duty, I smile to my husband that I am alive,” she said.

She added: “I love this job, and I see my countrymen in trouble and the country in a critical situation, and I feel women’s role is important in policing.”

Lieutenant Nigara originally joined the force during the Communist era in the early 1990s, and she returned after the fall of the Taliban.

She recounted how in 2006 she stopped a would-be suicide bomber, who was wearing an explosive vest, by throwing her arms around him in a bearhug. She apprehended insurgents and drug smugglers several times, even though they were disguised in burqas. And she said she once climbed onto a rooftop to capture an insurgent sniper.

“I am receiving threats on a daily basis,” she said. “The smugglers and terrorists are threatening me, saying I should give up, but I tell them that I am an Afghan woman, and I won’t leave the job as long as there is blood in my veins.”

I have a feeling that she was among the anonymous interview subjects of this NYT piece, in which Afghanistan policewoman noted that sexual harassment and even rape were part of the job.

The report, which the United Nations has circulated only among senior Afghan officials at the Interior Ministry, found that about 90 percent of the policewomen interviewed described sexual harassment and sexual violence as a serious problem, and that about 70 percent of the policewomen said that they had personally experienced sexual harassment or sexual violence themselves, according to people who saw the report or had it described to them.

While a much smaller fraction reported either being raped or otherwise sexually assaulted, the overall picture was of a police force in which women were constantly at risk.


Women’s rights advocates said that because Afghan policewomen were afraid of being penalized for revealing the problem, it was extremely difficult to get them to talk about abuse. That is all the more true if the person committing the sexual abuse is their commander or one of his close friends on the police force.

The policewomen interviewed by The Times said they feared being fired or demoted, or being sent to work in a job that was far away from their home if they complained.

Most policewomen are low-level security screeners at checkpoints or government buildings, and in many instances they are the only person earning money in the family and desperately need their salaries — usually around $240 per month.

A further disincentive to talking publicly about sexual abuse or coercion is that many Afghans already believe female police officers have loose morals simply because they are willing to work in public with men who are not relatives. If a woman admits that she is under pressure to have sex, conservative relatives might force her to quit — or even kill her to expiate the perceived dishonor to the family.

As for Nigara's predecessor as the country's top policewoman: In April, Lt. Islam Bibi reported that her own brother had attempted to murder her three times.

On the fourth of July, she was murdered.

Many human rights campaigners say Lt Bibi’s murder is just one example illustrating how a reversal is already under way.

Last month, in a decision that attracted little public attention, a court freed the in-laws of a young woman who had been tortured for refusing to be married off at the age of 13 or 14. And there is a growing backlash against a presidential decree designed to protect women.

You know what would be an interesting experiment?

A widespread, First-World-Wide asylum for Afghan women.

Take their women. Well, not take them; just offer them a way out. Let the population plunge and in 40 years you've got no problems.

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posted by Ace at 04:07 PM

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