Female cops test traditional gender roles in Afghanistan csmonitor by qdk21196


									Female cops test traditional gender roles in Afghanistan | csmonitor.com                                                                http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0107/p01s03-wosc.html

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                                                                                 Marzia Faizi faces
                                                                                 challenges her
                                                                                 father, also a cop,
                                                                                 never encountered.

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                                                                                                                                                                                   A Historic
           By MARK SAPPENFIELD | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor                                                                                                     Inauguration
           from the January 7, 2009 edition

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           KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - There is relish in Khatera Malikzada's voice
           when she talks about the time the Kabul police needed a woman.
                                                                                                       Reporter Mark Sappenfield talks about
                                                                                                       how seriously some Afghan female cops
           The policemen, armed with guns and strict orders to search a local                          take their jobs.
           house, had made it no farther than the front gate. Following the customs                                                             Monitor Reports
                                                                                                                                                Discussions with Monitor reporters from around the world
           of Islam, "the women were not allowing them to enter the house unless they had a female police officer," says
           Ms. Malikzada.

           In four years on the force, this is her highlight – coming to her befuddled colleagues' rescue. But it is one of
           only four searches she has ever done. She has no gun and no beat, and some neighbors won't let their                                             Excitement over the next President and an
                                                                                                                                                            update on Gaza.
           daughters even talk to her – fearful that she might put strange ideas in their heads.

           As Afghan women seek a balance between new opportunities and tradition, the Kabul Police Academy is a
           unique proving ground. In a profession dominated by men, it offers both the first glimpses of independence
           and a frustrating lack of opportunity.

           There has been progress in recent years, with women moving into better posts – from the head of the
           passport department to emergency call centers, says Tonita Murray, gender adviser to the Afghan
           department that controls the police, the Ministry of Interior.

           "Still, a lot of it is tea-making and tokenism," she adds.

           In a total police force of some 80,000, there are no more than a few hundred women. Within gender-specific

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Female cops test traditional gender roles in Afghanistan | csmonitor.com                                                  http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0107/p01s03-wosc.html

           roles, there is some scope for advancement. Before she was assassinated in September, the head of the
           crimes against women department in the southern city of Kandahar, Lt. Col. Malalai Kakar, was Afghanistan's
           highest-profile female officer. [Editor's note: Lt. Col. Malalai Kakar was the highest-profile female police
           officer in Afghanistan, not the highest-ranking.]

           Yet in a country where men are still held responsible for the safety of women, the Afghan attitude toward
           women police officers can often be paternalistic, "treating them like children," says Ms. Murray.

           Malikzada still can't believe she doesn't have a gun. "My own life is in danger, and I have nothing," she says.

           When fellow officer Marzia Faizi went to the western city of Herat on a recruiting trip, her now-deceased
           father was so upset at her perceived immodesty that he did not speak to her for a month after she returned.
           Now, her uncle has prohibited her from taking trips to other provinces, despite the fact that such trips "are the
           sort of thing that can help my career," says Ms. Faizi.                                                                       !"#$%$&           #$
                                                                                                                                (FOR 01/20/2009)

           It is clear why the Afghan police are eager to send Faizi around the country as a recruiter: Dedicated,              ' (                                           )
           self-assured, and educated – even speaking a smattering of English – she is the image that they want to              (01/20/2009)

           project.                                                                                                             * +                              ,
                                                                                                                                #            -       +
           Like Malikzada, Faizi has appeared in a television advertisement in Kabul. In it, she asks her fictional mother:     (01/20/2009)

           "When the police come, do you want a man to search the women?"
                                                                                                                                %           ,                   ./0/
           Sitting amid desks in an unlit classroom of the police academy, her hunger for the job is palpable. "In my           (01/20/2009)
           childhood, when I was watching films, I wanted to be a police officer," she grins.
           Recalling three months she spent assigned to the Ministry of Counternarcotics as an interrogator, her
           expression radiates fulfillment – the woman now living the life that the girl once imagined.                             Treeless Edition
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           "I liked that very much," she says, beaming.
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           For her, Ms. Kakar was something more than a hero. Standing only five feet tall, Kakar was known for her                 Receive our free e-mail
           bravery and refusal to be limited by her sex. Famously, Kakar killed three assassins in a shootout in 2004               Enter e-mail address
           and even beat a man who had chained his wife in his basement.

           When Kakar visited the women's dormitory at the Kabul Police Academy once, she and Faizi stayed up
           talking until 3 a.m.

           "I really loved her," Faizi says. "She was telling us, 'You are the future.' "

           "When we go out of the academy, the person who wants to welcome us with a bullet might be waiting," she
           adds. "But there is no other way."

           Such determination, however, is hardly universal among women officers, Murray says. "They lack the
           self-awareness that they can be independent actors – that they can have ideas and put them into action," she

           That is partly the Afghan culture, "where police [regardless of gender] are trained to take orders," Murray
           says. But it is more acute in women, who are "always on the sidelines, particularly when it comes to physical

           In the late autumn sun, officers are being graded on an obstacle course at the Kabul Police Academy. The
           atmosphere is hardly Parris Island. Some male officers do not even attempt the climbing wall, ambling
           around it.

           When it is time for the four women police officers, they scramble through the maze of bars incorrectly,
           dissolving into giggles as the instructor makes quiet comments.

           Sahib Jamal says she joined because she likes the uniforms. "I like the protocol of the ceremonies," she

2 of 4                                                                                                                                                                     1/20/2009 3:36 PM
Female cops test traditional gender roles in Afghanistan | csmonitor.com                                                               http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0107/p01s03-wosc.html


           For her part, Faizi is frustrated that more women haven't been moved up the chain of command to help set
           more of an example. "Then women would be encouraged," she says.

           But so-called Family Response Units set up to deal with domestic violence are giving women are a chance
           "to show what they can do," says Murray. "As they show competence, they will be given more opportunities."

           1                    ,        +


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