Who is Khatera? Afghan working mom shot and blinded by Taliban says women are fed to dogs
'They first torture us (women) and then discard our bodies to show as a specimen of punishment. Sometimes our bodies are fed to dogs,' said Khatera
For 33-year-old Khatera, the world came crashing down on June 7, 2020, when she was walking towards the police station in the city of Ghazni in Afghanistan. The former Afghan police officer and mother of six was attacked by Taliban fighters, who shot her eight times and proceeded to blind her. She was two months pregnant at the time of the attack. To this day, she believes it was a miracle that she survived and gave birth to a healthy baby later. All Khatera did to irk the extremist group was to work in law enforcement, especially as a woman.
The braveheart survivor now recalls her ordeal with horror, as she fears for the women in her country with the Taliban assuming power. "The scale of ‘zulm’ (oppression) and cruelty that will descend on women, you will never even be able to imagine," she said recently. Shocking reports have already emerged about Taliban 'rape gangs' roaming the streets of Afghanistan in search of minor girls to turn them into sex slaves. In some areas, women are being forced to wear burqas and face coverings. Female employees at some banks were decreed to stay home and not return to their jobs. There have also been reports of women being ordered to leave home only with male chaperons. In another incident, a woman was shot dead by Taliban for apparently wearing 'tight clothes'.
Who is Khatera?
Khatera Hashimi originally hails from the province of Ghazni, in southeastern Afghanistan. At the age of 32, she secured a job with the Criminal Investigation Department of the city, much to the displeasure of her father who had links with the Taliban. Three months into her job, a pregnant Khatera was walking toward the police station when a group of suspected Taliban fighters confronted her out of the blue.
"Two of them had guns. When they shot me, I got hit by a bullet in my back and my arm, but I was still standing. When a bullet hit me over my head, I was in shock and didn't know what was happening, and I fell on the ground," she recounted in a recent interview with SBS Pashto. As she lay in excruciating pain, the masked fighters struck her face with a knife and gouged both her eyes out.
A police investigation later revealed that it was Khatera's father himself who orchestrated the inhuman attack on his daughter. The former Taliban fighter gave a tip-off to the militants regarding the whereabouts of his daughter and even handed them a copy of her ID. He had called her prior to the attack to know her precise location.
"My father had warned me many times not to do the police work, but I thought it would be just an argument, and I had a similar argument with my husband too, but I was attacked even before getting my first salary," said the woman, who initially could not fathom her father's involvement in the attack. Her father was later arrested and put behind bars.
Presently, Khatera resides in Delhi, India with her husband Mohammad Nabi and their toddler, while their five older kids still stay in Ghazni. Nabi had initially been skeptical about Khatera's job, but she stood her ground and made it clear to him that she wished to "serve people, the community and raise the voice for women”.
“She said to me that if I am getting married to her, I must promise that she can do her job after the marriage," said Nabi, who eventually came around. The couple managed to go to India for treatment as they had the fortune for it. But Khatera believes not every woman is lucky that way.
"This fortune is not available for all. Women and anyone who disobeys the Taliban die in the streets. I was lucky that I survived it. One has to live in Afghanistan under the Taliban to even imagine what hell has befallen on the women, children and minorities there," she said in a latest interview with Indian news outlet News 18.
"They (Taliban) first torture us (women) and then discard our bodies to show as a specimen of punishment. Sometimes our bodies are fed to dogs," she continued, adding, "The Taliban don’t allow women to visit male doctors, and at the same time, don’t let women study and work. So, then what is left for a woman? Left to die? Even if you think we are just reproductive machines, there is no common sense but pure hate. How does a woman deliver her child according to the dictum of these men with guns without medical care. It’s tough for the world to imagine what we built in the past 20 years. We built dreams. Now they are gone. It’s all over for us."