DH, my mum Linda and I vacationed in Dubrovnik last spring. DH and I had spent six months in BiH in 2001 and had briefly holidayed (and fell in love) in Dubrovnik, and knew we had to return.
While there, I prowled the streets alone one day, and found my way to War Photo Unlimited, a gallery that focused on stories of conflict. Being deeply interested in the subject matter, I bought a ticket to the exhibition. The main exhibition was by a Canadian photographer with Croat roots, a young woman called Lana Šlezić. Her exhibition, titled Forsaken, dealt with the subject of women in Afghanistan. The photos are provocative, sad, hopeful, horrifying; powerful in every dimension. Deeply moved, I brought my mother and husband back to see the exhibit the next day.
One photo in particular struck me. A robin's egg blue burqa shrouded a woman; from beneath the fabric her arm is raised, pointing a pistol.
This is Malalai Kakar, one of the few incredibly brave women who serve on Afghanistan's police force. Death threats from the Taliban were the stuff of her daily life, but she was a woman who knew she was doing what needed to be done and making other women's lives better by her actions. She did not let fear stop her.
The Taliban shot this amazing woman in the head this morning. She was killed instantly.
The only consolation I can take from this (inevitable?) tragedy is that upon hearing of her death, over 20 women today alone joined the Kandahar police force.