First Female Police Chief in Afghanistan
Score one for women's basic rights and freedoms: Afghanistan just appointed its first female police chief - a landmark move in the male-dominated world of Afghan professionalism.
Jamila Bayaaz, aged fifty and a mother of five, has been privileged to become one of Afghanistan's few female authority figures. After 30 years on the force, she has finally become the lead officer of one of Kabul's busiest police stations.
Despite the honor, the job is fraught with danger, as CNN reveals. Bayaaz requires 4 bodyguards just to do her job; for years, she would not wear her uniform to work for safety reasons.
Now, Bayaaz refuses to let fear stop her from doing her job - and doing it well.
"I work day and night," she stated, in an interview quoted in the Vancouver Sun. "I am ready to serve, I am not scared nor am I afraid."
Bayaaz explained that Afghanistan has changed somewhat since the Taliban stopped reigning completely over the Middle Eastern country - but that more changed is needed. "Women are part of society and since they left, more and more are getting involved and they need to join the police," she stated.
"When I got out of my car, I spoke to my police officers on duty and all eyes were on me. It was interesting for the people to see a woman in uniform," she said. "Carrying out my duties in uniform is a lesson for others. I hope it inspires other women to wear the uniform and I hope more women become officers."
Baayaz's courage may provide new hope for Afghanistan's women, who face more violence than ever.
Earlier this month, Afghanistan's human rights commission (AIHRC) revealed to Reuters that violence against women had reached record highs in 2013, rising by over 25% by September. Rape, abuse, and murder of women has escalated and often goes unpunished, AIHRC chairman Sima Samar said.
"The brutality of the cases is really bad. Cutting the nose, lips and ears. Committing public rape," she said. "Mass rape... It's against dignity, against humanity."
"Laws are improved, but implementation of those laws are in the hands of warlords," Suraya Pakzad, a worker in several women's shelters in Afghanistan, confirmed. "I think we are going backwards."