Today the very sad news was confirmed that senior female police officer Islam Bibi from Helmond, Afghanistan was dead. She was murdered yesterday on her way to work after receiving numerous death threats from her brother as well as the Taliban.
She was such a dedicated and brave woman, that she defied them and continued working under the most difficult circumstances.
I didn’t have the chance and honor to meet Bibi while I was in Afghanistan. I did however do a story on the female police in Pakistan. As you surely aware, Pakistan and Afghanistan are very similar in this way. Bibi’s struggle to work from outside the home is typical of the problems many women in conservative, rural areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan face.
The female police officers are as brave and as necessary to help. They take the same risks and have to defy many people who see things differently then they do and would prefer them to stay home.
Lady police inspector Anila Unar of the West Karachi Police Station (Picture top row left) told me that in Pakistan there is little respect for the female police and they get treated differently then their male counterparts. ‘Even though I’m in a good position, often we are assigned duties outside Karachi like guarding the grave of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. If they would give us the authority to lodge an F.I.R. (First information rapport) it would already make a big difference. Women come in our police station to start an investigation, but I can’t do anything because I’m not authorized to do so.’
And even though they might not always be able to do the job they are supposed to, the mere fact that they are working and are trying to make a change is very important.
Rest in peace Islam Bibi!