Here’s how this upsetting New York Times story (Afghan Policewomen Struggle Against Culture – NYTimes.com.) begins. (All you’ll need is the beginning to grasp the unimaginable awfulness).
She was on her way home from a visit to her parents in a remote corner of eastern Afghanistan with her children by her side and a small group of women. Two men, their faces covered by kaffiyehs, pulled up on a motor scooter.
“Who is Parveena, daughter of Sardar?” said one, looking at the group of women, their faces hidden behind blue burqas.
No one answered. One of the men took his Kalashnikov and used the muzzle to lift the burqa of the nearest woman — in conservative Afghan society, a gesture akin to undressing her in public. It was Parveena, who like many Afghans used only one name. She grabbed the muzzle, according to her father and her brother, and said, “Who is asking?”
Parveena’s story — she was one of six policewomen killed in 2013 — is an extreme case, but it reflects the dangers and difficulties of Afghan policewomen and the broader Western effort to engineer gender equality in Afghanistan. The plight of women under the Taliban captured the Western imagination, and their liberation became a rallying cry. A flood of money and programs poured into Afghanistan, for girls’ schools and women’s shelters and television shows, all aimed at elevating women’s status.
But these good intentions often foundered against the strength of Afghan sexual conservatism.