The First Female Pilot in Afghanistan Seeks U.S. Asylum

Afghanistan pilot

In 2013 Captain Niloofar Rahmani, Afghanistan’s first female pilot, made history. However, due to death threats and criticism from the Afghan military, she has decided to seek asylum in the United States. 

Rahmani was in the U.S. for the past 18 months, as she was training in a specialized course, when she made the decision. The death threats, which came from the Taliban and members of her own family, finally took their toll. Both parties requested that she quit her job, as it was not a woman’s place in society to be a pilot.

Since Rahmani is no longer planning to return home to Afghanistan, she is facing many new issues and threats; such as being charged with deserting the Air Force, if she doesn’t return to her native country within 30 days time.

The death threats, which came from the Taliban and members of her own family, finally took their toll. Both parties requested that she quit her job, as it was not a woman’s place in society to be a pilot.

The Wall Street Journal published a statement from General Mohammad Radmanish, Afghanistan’s defense ministry spokesman. The General said, “Those who are scared of war should not join the army. She is just making excuses to stay there.

Due to statements from the General and the immense amount of threats that the pilot received, Rahmani’s U.S. lawyer, Kimberely Motley, spoke to the press about her decision to stay in the United States.

Motley reported, “It’s like a witch hunt…the angry responses that she and her family have received in Afghanistan further confirms that her life would be in danger if she were to return.

Afghanistan pilot

Other women who worked in the defense ministry in Afghanistan, and as political analysts and commentators, have also spoke out against the terrible situation Rahmani has suffered through.

Since Rahmani is no longer planning to return home to Afghanistan, she is facing many new issues and threats; such as being charged with deserting the Air Force, if she doesn’t return to her native country within 30 days time.

Those women, like Rahmani, have also received backlash from parts of the community. Negative sentiments regarding females seeking out jobs as pilots is not native to Afghanistan.

Even though the Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide website states, “women are the silver lining of aviation,” female pilots in America made up only 4.21% of the aviation teams in 2015. Despite the great opposition Niloofar Rahmani faces, many women and young girls in Afghanistan view her as a hero; and rightfully so.

The sky shouldn’t have to be a woman’s limit.

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