Malalai Kakar (1967 – 28 September 2008) was the most high-profile policewoman in Afghanistan after the ousting of the Taliban in 2001. A Lieutenant Colonel, she was the head of Kandahar's department of crimes against women. Kakar, who received numerous death threats, was assassinated by the Taliban on September 28, 2008.
Kakar joined the police force in 1982, following in the footsteps of her father and brothers. She was the first woman to graduate from the Kandahar Police Academy, and the first to become an investigator with the Kandahar Police Department.
Gender issues in Afghan law enforcement
The fate of Malalai Kakar illustrates the intricacies of gender issues in law enforcement in Afghanistan. Female Afghan police officers leave their homes hidden by a burqa, to don a police uniform and weapon at the police station to do their job. By the end of 2009 there were about 500 active duty policewomen in Afghanistan, compared with about 92,500 policemen. A few dozen serve in the southern provinces Kandahar and Helmand, where the influence of the Taliban is strongest.
Policewomen play an essential role in the war against insurgents in Afghanistan. In a culture that is marked by a strict separation of the sexes, the security forces need women to perform special tasks, like the searching of women and homes. They are essential to conduct home searches, since Afghans are deeply offended when male soldiers or police enter premises where women are present, and at checkpoints men cannot search women for concealed weapons and other contraband.
In December 2009, Col. Shafiqa Quraisha, the head of the Gender Issues Unit of the Afghan police, described a raid in which insurgents had collected women into a room where weapons were hidden. She was able to search both the women and the room, finding the weapons. Raiding a house, when a female officer is the first one to enter, male residents cannot complain that police had violated decorum by entering a residence with women inside.
Other women have shared Malalai's tragic fate. Hanifa Safi and Najia Sediqi, heads of women affairs in Laghman Province, were assassinated in 2012. On Thursday 4 July 2013, Islam Bibi, a 37-year-old mother of three and the leading female police officer in Helmand, was gunned down on her way to work. A few months later, on 15 September, Bibi's 38-year-old successor, Negar, was also shot; she died the following day.
Malalai Kakar was shot dead between 7:00am and 8:00am in her car outside of her house while on the way to work 28 September 2008. When Kakar was killed she was reported to be either in her late 30s or early to mid 40s and had 6 children.
- Saeed Shah (29 September 2008). "Taliban kill top policewoman". smh.com.au. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- "Top Afghan policewoman shot dead". BBC News. 28 September 2008. Retrieved 15 September 2013. "Ms Kakar, who was reported to be in her early 40s and had six children, was one of the most high-profile women in the country."
- Temple-Raston, Dina. "Kandahar's Top Cop is a Woman". Marie Claire. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
- "Afghan police work to overcome barriers for women"
- "Laghman Women's Affairs Official Assassinated". tolonews.com. 10 December 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- Emma Graham-Harrison (4 July 2013). "Helmand's top female police officer shot dead". theguardian.com. Retrieved 6 July 2013.
- Zubair Babakarkhail; Rob Crilly (4 July 2013). "Helmand's top female police officer shot dead". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 6 July 2013.
- BBC News (16 September 2013). "Top Afghanistan female police officer dies". Retrieved 5 February 2014.
- Rahim Faiez (28 September 2008). "Taliban assassins kill ranking Afghan policewoman". Associated Press. Retrieved 15 September 2013. "Malalai Kakar, 41, who led Kandahar city's department of crimes against women."
- John F. Burns (28 September 2008). "Taliban Claim Responsibility in Killing of Key Female Afghan Officer". nytimes.com. Retrieved 15 September 2013. "The police officer, Malalai Kakar, who was in her mid-forties with six children."
- 10 minute clip from a documentary about Malalai Kakar in real media and flash format
- The Times: Lieutenant-Colonel Malalai Kakar