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Afghan crime series

February 28, 2012

A TV series is being produced on the work of the police in the Afghan capital. The project is being produced with cooperation from the EU and its producer and main star is a policewoman and rights activist.

Image: picture alliance / JOKER

The film is being shot in a grey concrete building on the outskirts of Kabul, to which a suspect in the murder of a family is being taken. The dashing Inspector Amanullah is on the case.

Though the series carries his name, Saba Sahar is the person in charge. She was the first woman to appear on TV after the Taliban were removed from power. She is an actress, director, producer, a devout Muslim and a women's rights activist. Even now she is running around in front of the camera in high heals, giving stage directions and playing Inspector Amanullah's boss. That is important for Saba Sahar.

"I want to show that women can be strong, too - that they can be the head of a family or even police chief," says Sahar.

She gives the impression that she is already the master of that in her own life. She has a family - three children and a husband - and, of course, she wears a headscarf. But contrary to many other women in her country, she refuses to be locked up at home or wear a burqa. Being on the stage is something she wanted early in life. And her chosen career is anything but normal - Sahar chose to work with the police. 

Sascha Weh, a German police officer who works for the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan, believes she is one of a kind. "Her rank as a police officer is comparable to that of a police director - she has 19 years of experience with the police and she puts that to use in the film. She is very dominant and knows exactly what she wants and what she wants of a good police force," he says.

A lot of work ahead

A picture showing a German police officer with a handcuffed criminal
The project is being run in cooperation with the EU Police MissionImage: Fotolia/Schulz-Design

But reality does not always coincide with her ideals. Afghanistan's police structures are still similar to a paramilitary; training from the European mission will take time. The reputation of the police is only slowly improving. And there are not enough female police, who, for example, can enter women's rooms during house searches.

"We are working to get women to join the force, and also to get a police force that is close to the people. And that is a great project," says Weh.

The project is in cooperation with the EU Police Mission, and is being financed with money - around 250,000 euros - from Germany. The 20-episode series "Inspector Amanullah" will start airing in this summer - at least for the residents of Afghanistan's cities. In the rural areas, people will have to share the few TV sets there are.

Saba Sahar is nonetheless convinced that the series will be a hit and that she will be able to show Afghan women that they can have their own lives in a male-dominated society. Sahar has found her way – and it is not only in the shooting location in the grey building on the outskirts of Kabul.

Author: Birgit Schmeitzner/sb
Editor: Shamil Shams