Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Capt. Niloofar Rahmani's story seems to sum up the dismal state of women's rights in Afghanistan more than 15 years after the Taliban were forced from power
The 25-year-old is the first female fixed-wing pilot in her country's air force, but says that she has received death threats both from Taliban insurgents and from distant relatives who believe that she has disgraced her family. Rahmani, who became famous in her homeland after graduating from a pilot training program run by the US-led coalition, finished another 15 months of training in the United States and has applied for asylum in the United States, saying that she would love to fly for her country, but that she's scared for her life. Rahmani, who was honored with the State Department's Women of Courage Award in 2015, says that distant relatives outraged by her career choice have tried to kill her brother and have forced her family to move several times. She says that if she's allowed to stay in the United States, she will fly either for the US Air Force or as a commercial pilot. "Everything I went through, all my suffering, was because I really wanted to fly. That was my dream," she says. She also says that she was harassed and treated with contempt by male Afghan colleagues, though a Defense Ministry spokesman accuses her of lying.