Women in Afghanistan are being recruited as front line police officers for the first time, UK broadcaster Sky News reported on Wednesday.
In the past, women were only allowed to carry out menial support tasks in the back office.
But now the Afghan authorities, with the help of British instructors, are training women to help their male colleagues at the Afghan National Police (ANP) tackle the most dangerous of insurgents.
Women in the Afghan police force are expected to play a vital security role as they are able to search both men and women and enter premises with women, something that male policemen are not allowed, due to cultural sensitivities.
“Women are essential,” said Police Constable Catriona McBeath, one of the British police trainers mentoring female police officers.
“They can go places where men cannot go. For example, if known Taliban runs into a compound that is full of women, then the women in ANP can follow the men and go in and search them and arrest them,” she explained.
The Head Head of Afghan National Police, Captain Farid said the Taliban were afraid of female police officers: “If they have a lot of women in the police force, it means they can search the Taliban everywhere.”
Third Lieutenant Nagara Abdul Nabi is one of the female police officer trained by British instructors.
At the Bost airport near Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, she regularly searches men's bags and burka-clad women. She told Sky about a recent success at a checkpoint.
“When we stopped the car at a checkpoint, a woman passenger acted suspiciously,” Abdul Nabi said.
“When I began to search her, the woman started struggling and bit me badly. Then I discovered that she had a bundle of explosives strapped beneath her burka. I also found two grenades and an AK 47.”
Under the Taliban regime, between 1996 and 2001, women were banned from working and going to school.