Former Afghan police women being killed, forced into hiding after Taliban takeover

Over the past two decades, tens of thousands of Afghans rose to the occasion and took jobs in the public sector to help their country and their livelihoods. Now that the U.S. has pulled out, many feel abandoned. One particular group who say they feel let down — former police women — are now being targeted by the Taliban. Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Over the past two decades, tens of thousands of Afghans rose to the occasion and took jobs in the public sector to help their country and their livelihoods.

    Now that the U.S. has pulled out, many say they feel abandoned. One particular group who say they feel let down and now appear to be targeted by the Taliban is former policewomen.

    We have this report by Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News.

  • Lindsey Hilsum:

    All over this city, women are in hiding, concealed behind dark windows and walls. They did what Western countries wanted, worked for government, aid agencies, the security sector.

    The Taliban says they can carry on, all the while sending goons to threaten them if they do. Fatima is alone, a former policewoman, a single mother, divorced from the man she was forced to marry at the age of 12, all crimes in the eyes of the Taliban.

  • Fatima Ahmadi, Former Policewoman (through translator):

    Now I'm being threatened from all sides, from the former government, from the criminals I caught when I was in the police, from the Taliban, from my relatives.

    So I'm living hidden from the world with my kids. I have moved three times in a single month.

  • Lindsey Hilsum:

    She thinks constantly of her fellow policewoman, Negar Masumi, eight months pregnant, who was murdered last week. The Taliban say they're investigating.

    In the last few months, at least six policewomen were killed in Taliban-controlled areas before the capture of Kabul. Last year, Fatima released on social media a video of herself destroying her police I.D. in protest about sexual harassment by her male superiors.

    Shamed by her behavior, she says, her own family then tried to kill her. Now she fears both them and the Taliban. The personal and political are intertwined.

    Western countries spent an estimated $100 million training women for the Afghan security services. But most Afghan male police officers rejected them, and now the Western missions who encouraged the women to blaze the trail have vanished, leaving them to their fate.

  • Fatima Ahmadi (through translator):

    Why have they abandoned us to the Taliban? Since they were supporting us, surely they should ask what's happening to us now. What is our crime? Our crime is that we were policewomen. For this crime, they kill us in the most brutal way. Why is the international community not asking about us?

  • Lindsey Hilsum:

    A demonstration this weekend showcased the Taliban ideal of womanhood, entirely covered and utterly obedient.

    A job lot of identical niqabs appears to have been acquired for the occasion. This is not traditional Afghan dress. The women proclaimed their support for segregation in education, which is now the law.

    At Ghalib University, they have started educating women and men on alternate days. As a private university, they have enough facilities, but public institutions are struggling. Women are meant to be taught only by women or very old men, but there aren't enough female teachers and lecturers.

    Far fewer women are showing up to class, but those who've come are determined.

  • Sana Farouk, Medical Student:

    Women are very important in the country. So, we Afghans should — we have the right to be like another women there in developed country.

  • Lindsey Hilsum:

    Fatima used to be proud of her uniform, but now, penniless, unable to earn a living and with no family protection, she feels that all she can do is speak out.

  • Fatima Ahmadi (through translator):

    They will kill us. Whether or not we raise our voice and talk in front of a camera, the Taliban will kill us anyway. That's why I raise my voice. If I talk in front of the camera, at least, after I'm gone, maybe other policewomen will not be killed.

  • Lindsey Hilsum:

    In Afghanistan's cities, many women embraced the Western project to liberate them. Some have managed to flee, but most can't.

    They're left with a new set of beliefs, for which they may end up paying with their lives.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    That report from Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News in Kabul.

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