Commander Malalai Kakar (Policewoman)

Three years ago, Kim Sengupta interviewed five women who wanted to build a new Afghanistan. As of October 3, 2008, three were dead and a fourth had fled. The first four paragraphs below are from Sengupta's article Women who took on the Taliban – and lost, recently published in The Independent.

In the case of Malalai Kakar, the most prominent policewoman in Afghanistan, an additional “crime” which sealed her fate was that she was a determined and effective campaigner for women’s rights.

malalai_kakar.jpgCommander Kakar, 40, knew her work made her a Taliban target. She led a unit of 10 policewomen specialising in domestic violence cases. She was uncompromising with suspected abusers, men who in the past had relied on male police officers to turn a blind eye.

“I’ve been accused of being rough with husbands who beat up their wives” she said. “But I’m angry, we try to apply the law in the right way and the constitution is supposed to protect women’s rights.”

Kakar liked to cook breakfast for her husband and six children before going to work, she told me. She would spend a long time saying her farewell because, she said, she could never be sure what would happen. Her 15-year-old son was with her when she was killed last weekend. She carried a pistol under the burqa she wore to work, so as not to be recognised, before changing into uniform. But she had no chance to defend herself, or him, against the two motorcycle assassins.
To read the full article click here.

This excerpt below, published on October 10, 2008, is from the LA Times. Click here for the full story.

In the no man's land of Kandahar province in Afghanistan, Malalai Kakar was like a feminist action hero. Swathed in her burka and carrying a Kalashnikov in her hand and a 9-millimeter pistol on her hip, the region's top female police officer -- and mother of six -- apprehended thieves, killers and wife beaters. Once, in a shootout with a dozen Taliban fighters, she and three male officers held their own until the Taliban fled. Another time, she burst into a home, knocked down the husband and rescued a woman and child the man had kept chained in a cage. Back at the station, Kakar mediated neighborhood disputes and even marital disagreements.
Here's a 10-minute segment from a 40-minute video documentarty on Kakar:

Finally, click here for a somewhat dated, but excellent article in Marie Claire.