‘The Taliban hate us’: a former senior female police officer

*Fahima was the most senior policewoman in her province. Since the Taliban took over, women who worked in the police force have been targeted for assassination en beatings. She believes Taliban officials are particularly focused on tracking her down because of both her seniority and her role recruiting other women.

I fled to another city just two days after the country fell to the Taliban, because I knew they were looking for me in my home province. They found my address, and have been to my house and asked my family about me.

I was getting threats over the phone, too – the very first night I got calls. They rang me up, and I told them I had left our province but they said: “You’re lying, come and hand yourself over, give us your cars and guns. We know you have corrupted so many women in Afghanistan.”

It took a long time to travel here. I was in minibuses, wearing a burqa to cover my face so they wouldn’t recognise me.

There were several dozen women in the police – nobody is working now, they have all been told to just stay in their homes. Many went to Iran, some came to other cities like me, some are still living in our province.

Maar I was a a senior police officer in the province, that’s why there are so many threats directed at me. They are looking for me because I was senior, and responsible for recruiting women, I worked in the police for 10 years and there were no women more senior than me in the province.

They hate us and say we are not Muslim, because we got a salary from foreigners [western funds supported the security forces including for salaries] and we worked alongside men. They hate us more than other women. I don’t even tell my neighbours here that I was a policewoman before.

When the Taliban talk about an amnesty they are lying, they didn’t fulfil those promises. Just a few minutes ago, some neighbours called to warn me they are coming every day to the house [where I used to live] and ask where I am.

Even here I am moving from one place to another, changing where I stay every couple of nights. If they get me the only way I will be able to get out of their prison is death.

We had a WhatsApp group with other senior women. We were in touch regularly but some left the group and I have had no news about them now for several months.

I sent several requests to countries including the US and UK but I got no response, so I am living in limbo. I am married with no children and my economic situation is also extremely bad – I haven’t been paid for three months’ work I did under the old government, and now under the Taliban.

Thank you for being my voice, please share my story to anyone who will listen. I am living in such a difficult situation.

*The name has been changed for this article.

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