Although she lives a modern lifestyle, she is still grounded in traditional family values,
always putting loved ones first.
‘Otherism’ – She lives her life in consideration of others with a deep sense of humility and empathy,
always supporting people any way she can.
She has a silent presence, which doesn’t reveal everything and always maintains composure in times of conflict.
She has a strong sense of identity and integrity and builds her life on these foundations.
Afghanistan’s female police officers fight for women-only toilets
Female police officers often suffer harassment from colleagues amid lack of dedicated facilities, says Human Rights Watch
A new female recruit of the Afghanistan police force during a training session south of Herat, in the west of the country. Photograph: Raheb Homavandi/Reuters
It is the smallest but most telling of details that reveals Afghanistan’s real attitude towards the women it claims to want at the heart of the national police force.
There are recruitment advertisements and public information films, western funding for training and special uniforms. But when female officers turn up to work most of them discover there are no dedicated female facilities, according to a report from Human Rights Watch (HRW). That also means they have nowhere private to change into the uniform that would identify them as a Taliban target if they wore them on a daily commute.
“We have to use male facilities. Toilets and changing rooms are an absolute necessity for women working in the police,” said a senior officer who asked not to be named because her superiors had not authorised an interview.
The often filthy, flooded stalls have no locks, so women stand guard for each other when they need to use them.
“The Afghan government’s failure to provide female police officers with safe, secure facilities makes them more vulnerable to abuse,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW. “This is not just about toilets. It’s about the government’s recognition that women have a crucial role to play in law enforcement in Afghanistan.”
Women are often targeted by predatory colleagues while using shared toilets in isolated corners of stations, said an international adviser to the police force. “Those facilities that women do have access to often have peepholes or doors which don’t lock. Women have to go in pairs. Toilets are a site of harassment,” the adviser told HRW.
Afghan and foreign women say the lack of basic facilities is just one part of a wider culture of disrespect that discourages prospective police officers. It also has wider, societal implications, because without female officers, there are concerns there may not be much progress on promises to tackle rampant violence against women.
Only 1% of the country’s police officers are women, according to HRW figures. The interior ministry, which oversees the force, admitted its goal of to recruit 5,000 women by the end of 2014 might be optimistic.
“Men whose rank is junior to me won’t salute me. They don’t value women as they should,” said the senior officer. “I am supposed to recruit women, but people say they can’t send their daughters because it is not safe.”
Even in the capital, Kabul, the focus of the western effort to modernise Afghanistan and bolster its government, the only female stalls are in the force’s national headquarters, the women say.
This month, the city police chief, Ayoub Salangi, ordered the construction of toilets for women in its stations. But when contacted by the Guardian, he denied there was a shortage of facilities and refused to give reporters permission to speak to officers.
In other Afghan cities, the situation is similar. HRW said it had been able to confirm the existence of only three dedicated female facilities nationwide. In rural police outposts and small substations, there are sometimes no toilets, forcing officers to seek secluded areas in the countryside, which is arguably riskier and more humiliating for women.
Most of the funding for Afghanistan’s police force comes through a UN-run trust fund, which has included plans for female toilets in this year’s planning, HRW said. But it needs approval from the interior minister and a dedicated cashflow, and 12 years after the overthrow of the Taliban, the most basic facilities for female police staff do not appear to be a priority.