Second Lieutenant Malalai Bahaduri’s story is one of hope and perseverance that began in the mid-1960’s. At the age of two, her parents moved the family from Wardak Province to Kabul. Despite living under a Soviet occupation followed by a repressive Taliban regime, Second Lieutenant Bahaduri persevered and received an education through the 12th grade.
When Afghanistan was liberated by coalition forces in 2002, Second Lieutenant Bahaduri, with the support of her husband, decided to leave her job as a telecommunications operator to pursue a career in law enforcement. A mother of three, she endured death threats and physical abuse at the hands of an uncle who broke her nose after learning of her career decision. Undeterred by his reaction, Second Lieutenant Bahaduri accepted the challenge.
Second Lieutenant Bahaduri’s dedication to achieve success, coupled with a powerful spirit to endure the criticisms from both her peers and her family, was eventually recognized when she was selected and became the first female member of the Afghan National Interdiction Unit (NIU). Despite her achievements, she continued to endure social bias and additional death threats to herself and her family. As an NIU instructor, she is committed to the professional development of the Counter Narcotics Police – Afghanistan (CNP-A). She plays an integral role in the Afghan effort to target the most significant drug trafficking networks, collect evidence, and arrest and prosecute drug traffickers in accordance with Afghan law. First Sergeant Bahaduri has developed a strong reputation for duty and excellence among the Afghan members of the NIU, as well as with her U.S. advisors and mentors.
Now a grandmother, when asked why she chose to pursue this way of life, Second Lieutenant Bahaduri speaks of a time when women and men will be viewed as equals, when oppressive and archaic laws will be a thing of the past, and when women will be able to pursue whatever dreams they may possess.