Afghanistan General Khatool Mohammadzai

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Afghanistan - The double life of the General
Photos: Sergio Ramazzotti
General Khatool Mohammadzai is 45 years old, is a parachutist with 572 jumps, and has been wearing the Afghan National Army's uniform for almost 30 years. And, most of all, she is a woman. During her long career, she has faced death more than once, she had to spend years confined at home during the Taliban regime, she had to bury her husband, killed during the Soviet war 40 days after their child was born. Yet, she managed to climb all the way up the hierarchy ladder, becoming the highest-ranking female officer in the Afghan army, and the country’s only woman general. Resented by many in the military, she has survived more than one attempt on her life. Today, general Mohammadzai has a desk job at the Ministry of Defence in Kabul, as responsible of the army’s sports teams. When she goes home every night, she changes in civilian clothes, puts her veil on, buys rice and groceries at the local bazaar, and she cooks dinner for her 20-year-old son and her nephews, who sometimes spend the night at her place. She made her last parachute jump in 2006, during a military parade in Kabul, and ever since she’s been longing for the time “when I will be able to jump again in security”.
Afghanistan General Khatool Mohammadzai
International photojournalism