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Kabul appoints its first female police chief

16 January, 2014

KABUL: Afghanistan has appointed its first female police chief in a move intended to pave the way for more women to rise through the ranks.

Officials in Kabul said on Tuesday that Colonel Jamila Bayaz, an officer with 25 years' experience, would run one of the city's most important police stations.

Colonel Bayaz will move from the interior ministry to take over the capital's first police district, making her the most senior female officer in the country.

"I think my assignment to this post will persuade others to join the police force," she told the Afghan television news channel Tolo News.

Government officials say they hope to appoint a woman as a provincial police chief before long. "We don't seek to place a female officer in a weak station - it's not like that," said General Mohammed Zahir Zahir, the Kabul police chief. "We started this process at this station because women are capable of working like men."

The improved standing of women in Afghan society is frequently cited as an example of progress made since the Taliban were driven from power in 2001, but human rights campaigners fear the gains are being eroded as NATO forces withdraw.

High-profile women have become targets for militants, and even conservative family members, in recent years. Last year, Lieutenant Islam Bibi, the most senior female police officer in Helmand, was shot dead on her way to work after receiving death threats from her own brother.

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