Female Afghan soldier fears rape, death under new Taliban rule

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Female Afghan soldier fears rape, death under new Taliban rule

An Afghan woman who proudly joined the military a decade ago is now terrified that she will be kidnapped, raped or even killed for being a soldier under the new Taliban regime.

Kubra Behroz, 33, decided to become an officer in the Afghan National Army in 2011 amid a push to recruit more female soldiers, the UK’s Telegraph reported.

“I don’t want to be owned by anyone. I want to stand on my own two feet,” Behroz told the publication of her decision to don the uniform.

“I love my country and we are the next generation of Afghans taking a step into the modern world.”

But after the Taliban swept to power by toppling the government in Kabul, the mother of two is frightened for her safety.

“I am afraid I will be kidnapped, imprisoned and raped for being a soldier. I am afraid for my future and for my family,” Behroz said, adding that her comrades-in-arms have issued a chilling warning.

An Afghan woman commando works during a training session in Herat, Afghanistan.
An Afghan woman commando works during a training session in Herat, Afghanistan.
Mir Ahmad Firooz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

“They say the Taliban will cut off our heads if they find us,” she told the Telegraph.

Behroz’s soldier brother — who was wounded last week during fighting in Ghazi province — told her that two women were beheaded for having been cops four years ago, according to the outlet.

There also have been reports online of insurgents raping women and girls in the name of marriage.

An Afghan female cadet plays with her nephew after a graduation ceremony at the Military Training Center in Kabul
The initial goal in Afghanistan was to make the military 10 percent female by 2020.
PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP via Getty Images

Under a practice known as zina, a girl who is raped is usually forced to marry her assailant or face ostracism from her family and community for her “shameful” behavior.

Behroz, who joined the army during a massive recruitment drive to create a modern military, was trained for six months by American, British and Jordanian instructors at the Afghan Army National Officer Academy — dubbed “Sandhurst in the Sand,” a reference to the British academy.

“It is an Islamic country and we need female soldiers and police to conduct house and body searches. Men aren’t allowed to do that here,” she said.

Afghan women cadets handle an AK-47 rifle during a training program at the Officers Training Academy in Chennai.
The recruitment targets for women were lowered to just 3 percent, following reports of abuse, threats and discrimination.
ARUN SANKAR/AFP via Getty Images

The initial goal was to make the military 10 percent female by 2020, but when the academy opened its doors to women in 2014, uptake was slow — as women who stayed away from home overnight were often accused of prostitution, the paper reported.

After reports of abuse, threats and discrimination, the recruitment targets were lowered to just 3 percent –with current estimates of female soldiers at a mere 1.3 percent.

Behroz, who has been harassed since she signed up, said she once left the army and moved her family to another part of Kabul but eventually rejoined when she was unable to find work.

She said she has now faced increasing threats and anonymous phone calls in recent weeks.

“They speak in Pashto and then Dari and tell me they know how to find me,” she told the outlet. “They will kill me and my family. Killing is a piece of cake in Afghanistan — people don’t think twice about it.”

Behroz added that she might try to escape to Pakistan, where she and her family also fled in the 1990s amid the civil war and the Taliban uprising.

“It is history repeating itself,” she said.
 
 

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