Afghanistan’s first female pilot since the fall of the Taliban is defying death threats and archaic gender norms to infiltrate what is almost entirely a male preserve.
Dressed in khaki overalls, aviator shades and a black headscarf, 23-year-old Niloofar Rahmani cuts a striking presence as she struts across the tarmac at the Kabul Air Force base, which is otherwise devoid of women.
The threats grew so menacing in 2013 that she was forced to leave the country for two months. “They threatened to hurt me and my family,” she told AFP over the roar of military transport planes.
“My only choice was to be strong and ignore them.”