The last thing 33-year-old Khatera saw were the three men on a motorcycle. They attacked her just after she left her job at a police station. The police station is in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province. They shot at the woman and stabbed and blinded her with a knife in the eyes for getting a job.
“I asked the doctors, why I can’t see anything? They told me that my eyes are still bandaged because of the wounds. But at that moment, I knew my eyes had been taken from me,” she said.
She and local authorities blame the attack on Taliban militants who deny involvement. They say the assailants acted on a tip-off from her father who vehemently opposed her working outside the home.
For Khatera, the attack caused not just the loss of her sight but the loss of a dream she had battled to achieve – to have an independent career. She joined the Ghazni police as an officer in its crime branch a few months ago.
“I wish I had served in police at least a year. If this had happened to me after that, it would have been less painful. It happened too soon … I only got to work and live my dream for three months,” she told Reuters.
Childhood dream dashed
Khatera’s dream as a child was to work outside the home. After years of trying to convince her father, to no avail, she was able to find support from her husband.
But her father, she said, did not give up on his opposition.
“Many times, as I went to duty, I saw my father following me … he started contacting the Taliban in the nearby area and asked them to prevent me from going to my job,” she said.
She said that he provided the Taliban with a copy of her ID card to prove she worked for the police. He had called her throughout the day she was attacked, asking for her location.
Ghazni’s police spokesman confirmed they believed the Taliban were behind the attack and that Khatera’s father had been taken into custody.
A Taliban spokesman said the group was aware of the case, but that it was a family matter and they were not involved.
Khatera and her family, including five children, are now hiding out in Kabul, where she is recovering and mourning the career she lost.
She struggles to sleep, jumps when she hears a motorbike and has had to cut off contact with her extended family, including her mother, who blame her for her father’s arrest. She hopes desperately that a doctor overseas might somehow be able to partially restore her sight.
“If it is possible, I get back my eyesight, I will resume my job and serve in the police again,” she said, adding in part she needed an income to avoid destitution. “But the main reason is my passion to do a job outside the home.”
Such so-called honor-based violence is also common in Pakistan. Where a woman is shot and blinded for just getting a job as she dreams of. Just recently, a man in Lahore claimed to have killed his mother because he was not happy with her job. Model Qandeel Baloch also became a victim of honor killing. Her brother had killed her while she was sleeping.
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