Afghan women break taboo to join police force, serve the nation

In the conservative Afghanistan, many see it a taboo for women to work outside home.

But Shabana in the southern volatile Kandahar province has broken with traditions by joining the police.

SOUNDBITE (AFGHAN): SHABANA, Afghan policewoman
“Although I know it’s risky for a woman to work in the police force in a conservative society, I am determined to overcome obstacles and set an good example of serving my country, and for other women to follow suit.”

Dressed in a police uniform, the 29-year-old still has to cover herself with scarf and sunglasses while frisking suspicious female travelers in a checkpoint.

Kandahar is the birthplace of Taliban and the spiritual capital of the hardline outfit until its collapse in late 2001.

The city is seen as a hotbed for religious extremism where the Taliban-led militancy claims many lives every year.

Shabana’s husband, a police officer, was also killed by the Taliban.

Since then, she became determined to join the police force, despite death threats from relatives who believe women working outside home brings shame to the family.

SOUNDBITE (AFGHAN): LAILA, Afghan policewoman
“I am hopeful that our society could one day realize the importance of women’s role in ensuring peace and stability as well as economic development in the country.”

The Afghan government has been trying hard to increase the number of female officers in the police force and encourage women to serve the nation.

SOUNDBITE (AFGHAN): ABDULLAH JAN, Director of Kandahar Police Training Center
“To some extent, we have achieved our goal of recruiting women for the police force and deployed them at checkpoints to help their male colleagues.”

Officials say around 1,500 females are now serving in the police force across Afghanistan.

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