AFGHANISTAN: Woman Police Officer Survives Violent Assassination Attempt

Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Women's Network
Southern Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

Only a few months ago following the killing of First Lieutenant Isla Bibi, her female police force replacement Second Lieutenant Bibi Negarah was attacked, but not killed, by a gunman and his associate who were driving by on a motorcycle. Negarah, who is now considered to be the highest ranking woman police officer in the country at the age of 45, was shot from behind in the neck as she was walking to the police station in the city of Lashkar Gah Sunday morning.

Medical spokesperson Enayatullah Ghafari said that the initial assessment of Negarah's condition appears to be showing signs of paralysis due to her injury.

“Afghanistan is often described as one of the most dangerous countries for women, yet the country only has 1551 female police officers—one for every 10,000 women,” said human rights and women's rights advocacy organization Oxfam International, in a recent September 10, 2013 release.

“Alongside Afghan organization Research Institute of Women, Peace and Security (RIWPS), Oxfam is working on a national campaign highlighting the need and value of policewomen in the community. Aimed at combating ingrained attitudes and perceptions and lessening the risks to female police, the campaign will highlight the work policewomen can do in the community,” continued Oxfam.

Negarah's two male attackers, who are thought by locals to be religious/political extremists, escaped the crime scene quickly and to date have not been apprehended.

Threats to their life, discrimination and bullying are part of the package for numerous women police inside Afghanistan. The dangers for those who have chosen to jump into a career as a ‘member of the police', does not always from ‘outside' extremists. Some women who want to become a police enforcement officer are threatened by their own families with what is known widely as ‘Honor Violence‘ if they persist to pursue a career in enforcement.

Many women police officers also face the dangers of sexual violence, conveyed Human Rights Watch in April 2013 with a petition request to the Afghanistan government asking them to build more safe and segregated public women's toilet facilities so women police do not continue to be exposed to sexual attack while using existing facilities.

The need for women police officers in Afghanistan is an obvious one, conveys Oxfam. Because Afghan society forbids women to speak to a man who is not a member of their immediate family, women who are victims of crime do not feel comfortable reporting the crime committed against them to a male police officer. It is hoped that more crime against women can be addressed in multiple regions of Afghanistan with more female police officers available to women.

Today women police make up less than 1 percent of the total police force in Afghanistan.