SIn Bamian, a "peaceful corner" of Afghanistan, women are driving cars, working in public offices and police stations. There is even a female governor, the first and only one in Afghanistan. But according to the New York Times, this province is unique. Even though the Taliban fell more than six years ago, women in Afghanistan have huge hurdles: More than 80% are illiterate, and the life expectancy for women is only 45 years — lower than for men — due to high rates of death during pregnancy. Still, the women of Bamian are making strides. Under Taliban rule, women were not allowed to work or leave the home unaccompanied by a male relative. Nahida Rezai, 25, is the first woman to join the police force. "I came right into the police station," she says, adding that when she first started, "I received some threats by telephone."Rezai continues: "But now I am working as a police officer, I think nothing can deter me." Zeinab Husseini, 19, is Rezai's kindred spirit. She was the first woman in Bamian to drive. Her father has seven daughters and no sons and needed a second driver to help at home. Plus, Husseini says: "I like driving." (In the video which accompanies this article, she can be seem beaming behind the wheel of a van.) While the news is good for women in Bamian, farther away in Kabul, it's grim: The Independent reports that three years ago, Kim Sengupta interviewed five women who wanted to build a new Afghanistan. Today, three are dead and a fourth has fled. Writes Sengupta: "Religious fundamentalists are waging a ruthless campaign to eliminate women who have taken up high-profile jobs. Parliamentarians, schoolteachers, civil servants, security officials and women journalists have been selected for attacks by the jihadists." Malalai Kakar, the most prominent policewoman in Afghanistan — who specialized in domestic abuse cases — was killed last weekend, gunned down as her 15-year-old son prepared to driver her to work. Shaima Rezayee, a "bubbly" TV host who had a popular music show called Hop, was also shot at her home. But even in Kabul, there are women with hope. Says police Captain Jamilla Mujahid Barzai: "It is most important that now women try to get to positions of power to stop things like that happening again. It is dangerous. But we cannot go back to [Taliban rule] again." In Poverty and Strife, Women Test Limits Empowering Women in Afghanistan (video) [NY Times] Women Who Took On The Taliban – And Lost [Independent]
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