Fewer Than 100 of Kabul’s 700 Women Journalists Are Still Working: Report

  • Most of Kabul’s female reporters have stopped working out of fear for their lives after the Taliban’s rise to power.
  • Fewer than 100 of the capital’s 700 women journalists are still formally working at privately-owned radio and TV stations.
  • “The illusion of normality” for these women lasted only a few days after the Taliban’s takeover, said Reporters Without Borders.

Fewer than 100 of the 700 women journalists in the Afghan capital of Kabul are still formally working in privately-owned radio and TV stations after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, according to international NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Tuesday.

Kabul’s media outlets employed 1,080 female employees in 2020, 700 of whom were journalists, per a survey by the non-profit and its partner organization, the Center for the Protection of Afghan Women Journalists. The eight biggest press and media outlets in the capital employed 510 women, but only 76 are now working, with 39 of them being journalists, it said.

“In other words, women journalists are in the process of disappearing from the capital,” it wrote in its report.

Its new findings come as the world watches to see if the Taliban, a hardline Islamist group that took power last month, will fulfill its promises of respecting women’s rights, which it said it would do within Islamic law. Many women in Afghanistan fear that the Taliban will return to its old rules of barring women from work and enacting harsh punishments like stonings, though its leaders have vowed a more moderate stance.

The “illusion of normality” for women reporters lasted only for a few days, per RSF, which noted that most female journalists had been forced to stop working in provinces around the country.

Though women reporters from outlets such as Tolo News, Ariana News, and Kabul News continued going out to cover events and making on-air appearances during the immediate aftermath of the Taliban’s takeover, they were also harassed soon after, said RSF.

Nahid Bashardost, a reporter for the independent news agency Pajhwok, was beaten by Taliban members for reporting near Hamid Karzai Airport in Kabul on August 25, it added.

Some female reporters told RSF that Taliban guards had been posted outside workplaces to stop them from doing field reporting. Others said the Taliban told them to stay home because they were female reporters.

“You are a privately-owned radio station. You can continue, but without any woman’s voice and without music,” one radio station was told, per RSF.

Some female reporters have fled Afghanistan, including news host Beheshta Arghand, who made history by interviewing Taliban representative Mawlawi Abdulhaq Hemad live on local TV station TOLO News. 

Another female Afghan reporter told Fox News she has to change her address every day to hide from the Taliban, saying that the group would kill her if they found her.

Earlier in August, the Taliban said it would respect press freedom and that women would be able to return to work soon, but RSF said that no such measure has been announced yet.

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