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. She was shot dead between 7:00am and 8:00am in her car outside of her house while on the way to work. When Kakar was killed she was reported to be either in her late 30s or early to mid 40s and had 6 children.
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 offiers leave their homes hidden by a burqa, to don a police uniform and weapon at the police station to do their job. 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.
- Shah, Saeed (2008-09-28). "Taliban kill top policewoman". The Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/taliban-kill-top-policewoman/2008/09/28/1222540246537.html. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
- Faiez, Rahim (2008-09-08). "Taliban assassins kill ranking Afghan policewoman". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/28/AR2008092800231.html. Retrieved 2008-09-08. "Malalai Kakar, 41, who led Kandahar city's department of crimes against women"[dead link]
- Temple-Raston, Dina. "Kandahar's Top Cop is a Woman". Marie Claire. http://www.marieclaire.com/world/news/kandahar-cop. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
- "Top Afghan policewoman shot dead". BBC News (BBC). 2008-09-28. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7640263.stm. Retrieved 2008-09-28. "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"
- Burns, John F (2008-09-28). "Taliban Kill High-Profile Female Police Officer in Southern Afghanistan". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/29/world/asia/29afghan.html. Retrieved 2008-09-28. "The police officer, Malalai Kakar, who was in her mid-forties with six children"
- "Top Afghan policewoman shot dead". 28 September 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/7640263.stm. Retrieved 2008-09-29.
- "Afghan police work to overcome barriers for women"
- 10 minute clip from a documentary about Malalai Kakar in real media and flash format
- The Times: Lieutenant-Colonel Malalai Kakar