PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Jan. 12, 2013) – The Afghan Uniformed Police force relies quite a bit on fresh new recruits to ensure the safety of Afghan civilians, but what it needs more than anything is female recruits.
Fortunately, slowly but surely, they are gaining a few female officers with each graduating class. On Jan. 10, 12 proud female AUP cadets graduated from the Gardez Regional Training Center alongside their male counterparts, and will hit the streets with an eager attitude to engage and protect the Afghan public.
This graduating class of female AUP officers represents the first-ever training for female police officers south of Kabul.
Brig. Gen. Rasoli Sharifa, the senior ranking female AUP officer in charge of the all-female training, attended the graduation and spoke to the cadets with animated pride.
As she addressed the cadets, Sharifa said, “You come from these communities, and you know that you need to serve the community. As long as the police treat the people with good ethics, the people will respond and will support us.”
To recruit female officers, the AUP generally travels to female schools throughout Afghanistan. They place posters and flyers on the walls and relay the message of how much they are needed in the force and by the nation of Afghanistan.
The Paktya provincial police chief, Brig. Gen. Zalmai Oryakhel, also attended the graduation.
“We really need female AUPs,” he said. “When we are searching villages and encounter female suspects, men cannot search females, it’s against our customs.”
In addition, Oryakhel said, “The female AUPs are very kind; the civilians see this treatment and respect it. It really helps with our credibility.”
Oryakhel added that Afghanistan needs female doctors, lawyers and engineers, but also needs female AUPs. And it’s great to see the females working shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts.
According to Sharifa, the AUP is currently trying to fill 3,000 female positions.
“These women are terrific and I see great opportunities for them in the future,” said Karen Decker, the senior civilian representative for the coalition’s Regional Command-East.
“The most important thing that happened today,” added Decker, “was the men and women coming together and seeing that they can work together.”