Protecting women’s rights:
Women in the Afghan Police Force
Imagine being a woman in Afghanistan victimized by crime. And you can only talk with men in your own family. What do you do when only 1 per cent of the Afghan National Police is female?
Although female police are vital for Afghan women to be able to report crimes and access desperately-needed justice, few women in Afghanistan will ever encounter a female police officer.
Afghanistan underwent rapid political, military and economic transitions in 2014. The withdrawal of foreign troops and transfer of security to the Afghan government resulted in a deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan throughout the year.
Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to conflict and the breakdown of rule of law. The sudden increase in the number of high profile women murdered and attacked illustrates the growing threat all too well. Recent examples include:
- Lieutenant Islam Bibi, the most senior policewoman in volatile southern Helmand province, was shot dead on her way to work in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah
- Maryam Koofi, lawmaker and parliamentarian from the northern province of Takhar, shot in leg during assassination attempt in Kabul
- Yalda Waziri, female official, killed in Herat
More Women Police to protect Women’s rights In Afghanistan
Oxfam and its allies recognize that more women police for women in Afghanistan are desperately needed in order to protect women’s rights. In 2014, Oxfam along with its partners and allies, successfully advocated for the Ministry of Interior to recognize the need for women in the police force, appoint women police officers and adopt a gender strategy.
Oxfam played an important role in engaging and funding Afghan civil society to actively campaign for an accountable police force which provides security for women. We worked with:
• Research Institute for Women, Peace and Security (RIWPS): https://www.riwps-afghanistan.org/
• Peace Training and Research Organisation (PTRO): https://www.ptro.org.af/
• Afghan Ministries of Women’s Affairs and Hajj and Religious Affairs
• Donors: US Embassy (and the Pentagon); European Network for NGOs working in Afghanistan (ENNA)
Creating a more gender-sensitive police and justice system is critical to ensure women’s rights are protected in the long-term. Further action is urgently needed to recruit, train, retain and protect Afghan female police officers. This is critical for upholding the rights of Afghan women and girls and can contribute to sustainable peace and development efforts in Afghanistan.
Women’s rights have been held up as one of the most tangible gains of the international intervention in Afghanistan. After 13 years of promises from the international community that women’s rights are a high priority,these gains remain fragile and are at an increasing risk of erosion, especially as expected peace talks withthe Taliban gain momentum. The international community and the new Afghan government must stand by their promises and include women fully in negotiations on the future of Afghanistan.
What is Oxfam doing now about the problem now?
They stole our lives
“I always wanted to be a police officer and follow in my father’s footsteps. After I graduated I worked in the criminal investigations department but then there was a civil war followed by the Taliban. We girls had to stay inside during those days or else be beaten. They stole our lives.”
“When they were ousted, the country was on its knees but as soon as I was able, I returned to work in the police. It’s a tough job, especially as most people think women shouldn’t work – least of all doing a man’s job. Women like me face daily threats, even from our colleagues in the police force and they tried to make things really difficult for us. Until recently policewomen didn’t even have their own bathrooms or changing rooms in police stations. But it is our duty as daughters of this country to fight against such ignorance.”
Colonel Jamila Bayaz
From Women’s Voices in Afghanistan, //www.oxfam.org/en/women-voices-afghanistan
- Women and the Afghan Police: Why a law enforcement agency that respects and protects females is crucial for progress
- Behind Closed Doors
- Women and the Afghan Police
- Afghan women’s voices