KABUL -- Officials in Kabul have announced the graduation of more policewomen as Afghanistan bids to increase the female presence in its security forces, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reports.
The class of 16 women received their certificates in a ceremony in Kabul on August 5 after eight months of training at the national police academy. They will soon be assigned to different parts of the country according to the needs of various districts.
Police academy General Director Sayed Mohammed Qudusi told reporters at the ceremony that Afghanistan's Interior Ministry is doing all it can to make the newly established education and police training system for women effective.
The academy is funded by the U.S. government.
Cadets at the academy were taught how to conduct house searches, methods of recognition, explosives neutralization and dismantling, use of firearms and making arrests, as well as techniques used in detecting the smuggling of drugs.
"Our aim is to bring and restore social order [to Afghanistan]," Qudusi said. "We have to organize our programs and bring the quality of education to a level that is in accordance with the needs of society. We have to realize these needs on the ground and act accordingly."
Qudusi said the academy's goal is to have trained 5,000 female police officers by 2015. He said that so far a few hundred female cadets have graduated.
Policewomen serve several important functions in Afghanistan. For example, they are more adept at dealing with female criminals or in frisking women. Many say their existence in a strict Islamic society like the one in Afghanistan can help counter negative female stereotypes.
But policewomen are also often the victims of abuse or public acts of disrespect by people who think they should be living a more traditional way of life.
Madia is one of the new graduates. "I was taught the required tactics -- for example, how to use a gun, or etiquette," she told Radio Free Afghanistan. She added that greater efforts are need to establish a robust police force in Afghanistan.
Some 1,500 Afghan police were killed between 2007 and 2009, three times as many deaths as those suffered by Afghan Army soldiers.
There are more than 80,000 police in Afghanistan, and the Interior Ministry wants to eventually have some 160,000 in line with international calls for Afghan security forces to play a bigger role in the fight against insurgents.