Remember the Hamas terrorist who made his sister hide his weapon in her underwear? Well, she has yet another antithesis — besides the Iraqi woman who is training to do police work, that is. This time the woman is an Afghan from Kabul who has been trained as part of an elite counter-drug team to begin the long, slow process of interdicting drug trafficking in her country.
|BY day Malalai Badahari wears dark glasses, combat fatigues and wields an AK-47. But at dusk the diminutive counter-narcotics cop slips her veil back on her head and goes back to her home life, where all her neighbours think she is a teacher.|
Ms. Badahari has five children. Since the youngest is now twelve, she wants to work. If this seems a risky business for a mom looking for a job, it seems to be in character for Malalai. She even worked when the Taliban was in power and the first thing women didn’t do was work. Back then, her ‘job’ was the very subversive task of teaching women to read.
|Between 1997 and 1999, Malalai was one of 26 women who taught 300 girls to read and write in a mechanic’s house in the Shashadarak neighbourhood of Kabul. The Taliban, fiercely opposed to almost any activity by women that did not involve doing housework or praying, raided the school twice, breaking down the door on one occasion and searching for notebooks and writing materials.|
|“We had bought sewing machines and put embroidery on the walls and we said that we were teaching women how to sew, which was kind of allowed under the Taliban. It was far more frightening than the work I do now,” Malalai says.|
That’s probably a matter of opinion. Being one of six women in the country working in the field of drug trafficking, she would be killed immediately if her identity were known. This is not part of some “women’s equal rights” brigade. Malalai is necessary because the drug traffickers hide their goods in the women’s quarters of their homes. Under Islamic rules, men are not allowed in the women’s area.
Of course, Muslims don’t traffic in drugs or use them, either. So the opium trade, which now accounts for at least forty percent of Afghanistan’s economy, must be produced strictly for the infidels, right?
At any rate, Malalai continues to train between operations. So far, she has become proficient in small arms as well as the AK 47. She is also being trained in surveillance and close combat fighting.
|The National Interdiction Unit, of which Malalai is a part, will eventually form part of the frontline in the country’s war on drugs and is expected to be 200-strong by the end of this year, with around 15 to 20 female police officers.|
Yes, that is a pitifully small number of people to throw against a huge problem like poppies in Afghanistan, but our fearless lass is philosophical:
|…she is realistic about how long it will take to turn the tide on the narcotics trade given the poverty of Afghanistan, where most of the population scrape by on less than two dollars a day and 20 percent of children never live to see the age of five.|
|“Farmers here are very poor. You have to give them some alternative, and that will take years. The entire nation is so poor.” Malalai says.|
Think about her life this way: just how “philosophical” would you be in the face of such odds?
This is what “yearning to be free” looks like in Afghanistan.