As a female police officer in Afghanistan, Khatira knew she was in danger.
The price she paid for wanting to protect her country was high – and it came suddenly.
She had just finished her shift and was on her way home from downtown Ghazni when two men on motorcycles and one on foot attacked her.
“The walker shouted, ‘Shoot her!'” Khatira tells the BBC. “I didn’t know them. They attacked me near my home.”
The police officer was kicked to the floor, falling face first. She woke up in the hospital with knife wounds around her eyes.
“I was in pain and couldn’t see. The doctors said my eyes were hurt, so I couldn’t open them,” she said.
She was told to come back and be examined again after a month. When he did, he realized he had no eyes.
Khatira had been hired for just a few months before the attack happened – Photo: BBC
The horrible crime took place four months ago, but only now has it caught the attention of the government.
Afghan Interior Minister Masoud Andarabi met with Khatira on October 6 and promised him a home and help with treatment. He also accused the Taliban of committing the crime and wrote the following message on Twitter: “The Taliban cannot destroy this nation by force”.
The Taliban deny that it has anything to do with the attack.
But in a country mired in struggles between tradition and modernity, the conflict goes beyond politics, says Meena Baktash, editor of the BBC Afghan Service.
Memory is a brave cop. Her father is a student. Both eyes were pierced and severely injured. I came to the office today. I promised him treatment and ordered him to give me an apartment. The Taliban cannot break this nation by force. The security forces are not negligent in defending the country at any cost pic.twitter.com/lGt4opJOyy
“The Afghan government accuses the Taliban, and the Taliban denies it. And in the meantime, nobody cares about the wounded, poverty, the backwardness of Afghan society, the traditions and rights of women,” she says.
Baktash says stories like Khatira’s “are being used in war propaganda” between the government and the Taliban.
Khatira’s story did not make headlines when it happened, but only after the BBC interviewed her and requested a comment from the Interior Ministry.
“Every day, dozens of girls are victims of violence. Their noses are being cut, their ears are being cut, they are being beaten and tortured,” said the publisher.
“There are many stories of teenagers showing cigarette butts on their legs and hands, but they don’t make headlines.”
Dangerous place for women
Oxfam says women face extra risks as members of security forces in Afghanistan as they are stigmatized at work – Photo: BBC
Oxfam says Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous countries for women. Female police officers are stigmatized and killed simply for doing their jobs, according to the institution.
Attacks against women officers have recently occurred in the provinces of Ghazni, Kunduz and Kabul. But the BBC’s Afghan service publisher says little attention is paid to these crimes unless they end up in the media.
“The government blames the Taliban, but at the same time they do not realize that they are also admitting that they cannot protect these victims,” said Baktash.
Khatira’s father was arrested and charged with ordering the crime. The daughter says they fought because he didn’t want her to work.
Andarabi accused Khatira’s father of being a member of the Taliban, but police in Ghazni say he is just an ordinary civilian.
Khatira says she wants to return to work as a police officer – Photo: BBC
After a stay in Kabul for hospital treatment, Khatira is back in Ghazni.
Despite his injuries, Khatira says he wants to continue his work. But the authorities are hesitant.
“They said to me, ‘You are blind, you cannot work. You should retire.’ I said I will not retire.”
She is determined to become a police officer again if she can get treatment and recover.
“Going back to work is my biggest ambition,” says Khatira. “To prove myself, achieve something and serve my country.”
* With reporting by Aalia Farzan and Haseeb Ammar, from the BBC’s Afghan service.
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