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Shattered dreams

First Afghan female pilot facing death threats

By WITW Staff on August 5, 2015

Niloofar Rahmani became the first female fixed-wing military pilot in Afghanistan when she was 21 years old, but now at age 23 she faces death threats from the Taliban and even her extended family. After the end of the Taliban’s rule, the country aimed to increase the number of roles for women outside the home and Rahmani was a symbol of that effort. Now, two years later, she’s been threatened by a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Swat, and relatives are claiming that she has brought shame on the family. Despite investment by the U.S. to promote gender equality, there are still severe restrictions of women’s rights as the attempts to advance women’s rights have clashed with traditional Afghan culture. Not only do Taliban leaders not agree with Rahmani being a woman working outside the home, they also target her because she has specifically chosen to be in the military and “Islam has instructed women not to work with the Americans or British,” as one of the letters from the Taliban informed her. Rahmani has been asked to quit by the Afghan Air Force, but pressure from the U.S.-led coalition helped her kept the job. Her family has been threatened and even attacked and they are effectively living in hiding, moving every few months. Rahmani said, “I really wanted to be in the military. I really wanted to be in the Air Force … But I can’t continue like this.”

Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal.