D.C.'s largest domestic violence shelter this week hosted a visit from an Afghan activist who is literally putting her life on the line to help women escape abuse in the war-stricken nation. Amid the stress of regular death threats, Shukria Khaliqi continues on in what she says is her life's work.
"She does not mind. She's like, 'my health right now is deteriorating and I'm still willing to take that time and work; and go out to airports; drive 10 hours or to pick up women who are in need,'" said Khaliqi's interpreter.
Khaliqi takes on 50 cases per month as a legal adviser at the Women for Afghan Women shelter in Kabul. She wins every case, but she fears that her work in helping domestic violence victims will one day come at the ultimate price, she says through an interpreter.
"If the Taliban ever takes over, she would be the first one they would publicly execute to make an example because, women are inferior, you know, to them," said the interpreter.
Nevertheless, Khaliqi continues her mission in a country that's been at war with itself and others for years. In her first trip to the United States, she on Wednesday visited the District Alliance for Safe Housing to learn new ways of helping women in a society where domestic violence rates are shockingly high.
"We've had a lot of conversations on how we work with the women," said Suzanne Marcus, deputy director of the Alliance, who shared her best practices with Khaliqi. "We're very inclusive and we don't mandate services."
It's an innovative concept for Khaliqi, who said women rarely have a choice in her country, not even when it comes to walking down the street. "In Afghanistan, women are not really allowed to go out freely," she said.
Just hours before Khaliqi’s shelter tour in D.C., a suicide bombing killed 7 people in Kabul.