After she got a job, a woman in Afghanistan was shot and stabbed in the eyes, and police say her own father was one of the people behind the horrific crime.
For three months, Khatera, who goes by one name, was a police officer in Ghazni province when the incident took place, leaving her blind.
The last thing Khatera, 33, saw was the three men on a motorcycle who assaulted her just after she left her job at a police station in central Ghazni Province in Afghanistan, shooting her and stabbing her in the eyes with a knife.
She and local authorities blame the attack on militants of the Taliban-who deny involvement-and assert that the attackers acted on her father’s tip-off, who vehemently opposed her working outside the house.
The attack caused Khatera not only the loss of her sight, but also the loss of a dream she had worked to pursue-to have an independent career.
“I asked the doctors, why can’t I see anything? They told me that because of the wounds, my eyes are still bandaged. But at that moment, I realized my eyes were taken from me,” said Khatera, remembering the moment she woke up in the hospital.
Only a matter of months ago, Khatera had joined the Ghazni police as an officer in its crime division.
I wish I had been in the police for at least a year. It would have been less difficult if this had happened to me after that. It happened too fast … for three months I just got to work and live my dream, “she told Reuters.”
According to human rights advocates, the attack on Khatera is representative of a rising trend, an extreme and sometimes violent backlash against women taking jobs, especially in public roles.
In the case of Khatera, becoming a police officer may have annoyed the Taliban as well.
Activists claim the increase in violence is motivated by a combination of Afghanistan’s conservative social norms and an emboldened Taliban gaining power as the United States withdraws its troops from the region.
The Taliban are currently negotiating with the Afghan government in Doha, Qatar, to broker a peace agreement in which many expect them to return to power formally, but progress is slow and the fighting and attacks on officials and influential women across the country have increased.
The Taliban have been saying in recent months that they would uphold the rights of women under Sharia law, but many trained women say they have doubts.
A reform to add mother names to identification cards was opposed by the insurgent party, one of the first clear positions they have disclosed on women’s rights as they participate in the peace process.
Although the situation for Afghan women in public positions has always been dangerous, the recent increase in violence across the nation has made matters much worse, “said Samira Hamidi, Afghanistan campaigner for Amnesty International.” “The great progress made over more than a decade in Afghanistan on women’s rights must not become a victim of any peace deal with the Taliban.”
Khatera ‘s dream as a child was to work outside the home and she was able to find help from her husband after years of trying to persuade her family, to no avail.
But her father did not give up on his opposition, she said.
She said, “Several times when I was on duty, I saw my father chasing me … he began calling the Taliban in the nearby area and asking them to stop me from going to my work.”
She said that he had given a copy of her ID card to the Taliban to show that she worked for the police and that he had called her to ask for her location on the day she was assaulted.
The police spokesman for Ghazni stated that they claimed that the Taliban were behind the attack and that the father of Khatera was taken into custody. Reuters could not immediately contact him for comment.
A spokesman for the Taliban said the group was aware of the situation, but that it was a matter for the family and they were not involved.
Khatera is now hiding in Kabul with her family, including five children, where she is recovering and grieving the career she lost.
She is struggling to sleep, leaps when she hears a motorcycle and has had to cut off contact with her extended family, including her mother, who is blaming her for arresting her father. Desperately, she hopes that perhaps a doctor overseas would be able to partially recover her sight.
If it’s feasible, I ‘m going to get my eyesight back, I’m going to resume my job and work again with the police, “she said, adding in part that she wanted an income to escape poverty.” “But my love for doing a job outside the home is the primary factor.”