By Staff Sgt. Mike Andriacco, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service
Dec. 18, 2007 - In a first for Afghanistan's Kapisa province, the Bagram Provincial Reconstruction Team unveiled a new women's shelter during a ribbon-cutting ceremony here Dec. 13. Kapisa Gov. Khuweja Abubaker was on hand, as well as Safura Kohistani, the province's director of women's affairs, and Bagram PRT members.
The purpose of the shelter is to preserve a woman's honor, said Army Capt. Jordan Berry, the PRT's civil affairs team leader for the province.
"A woman who is a victim of domestic violence cannot go to the police or another man for help, or she will lose honor with her family," he said. "The shelter is run by women and staffed by women."
Any woman who is a victim of domestic violence or who is temporarily displaced from her home or family is eligible to use the shelter, Berry said.
The shelter is designed to provide everything a visitor might need.
"The shelter is a facility consisting of eight rooms, one kitchen, one office with a desk and chairs, 10 steel-frame bunk beds with mattresses, an interior European-style restroom, an exterior one-stall restroom, a well, a perimeter security wall, a guard house and a generator house," said Air Force Master Sgt. Charles Liston, the Bagram PRT's structural superintendent.
The project took nine months for local contractors to complete, and the Bagram PRT provided more than $86,000 for the project, Liston said.
Along with the ribbon cutting, several Afghan women put on an exhibition of handcrafted items.
"Many members of our team bought items at the exhibition as gifts, which not only helped with their Christmas shopping, but it also put money into the local community," said Air Force Capt. Erick Saks, the PRT's executive officer.
Saks added that the exhibition was yet another example of progress in Afghanistan and the changing view of women's roles in the country.
"The money collected at the exhibition provided income for the local women," Saks said. "There are few business opportunities for women in Afghanistan, so we were glad to help them out."
(Air Force Staff Sgt. Mike Andriacco serves with 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.)