AFGHANISTAN. Herat: Media workers, human rights defenders, and intellectuals are being targeted amid a surge in violence in Afghanistan. At least four journalists have died since November 2020. According to Afghan Journalists Safety Committee, the campaign of targeted assassination has led to a decline in the number of female Afghan journalists.
There has been an 18 percent decline in the number of women in Afghan media over the last six months due to security threats, the AJSC said. They added that the figures are concerning and signals a worse situation for the journalists in Afghanistan. AJSC is extremely concerned about the reduction of women in the media.
The figures for the first six months of the solar calendar (April – September 2020) show that there were 1,678 women in the media in the first six months of 2020 starting from March. Now the number has dropped to 1,377 women in 2021.
The committee reports that based on its survey, over 300 women journalists and media workers have said that they have left their jobs for security threats, recent targeted killings, economical challenges in Afghan media outlets caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and low wages.
Harifa Mahdawi, 25, a female investigative reporter from Herat said that it’s not just the pandemic or security threats that cause women to step down from their jobs, but other fundamental factors too. “As a woman journalist, you must first be able to fight the traditional norms of Herat society, to enter the business of journalism, ” Harifa said.
“Even if your family agrees, still the patriarchal society rejects you. I was not allowed in a press conference of Mawlawi Mujib Rahman, Herat’s well-known cleric, because I was a woman.”
According to AJSC, there are no women reporters in nine provinces, including Ghor, Nimroz, Sar-e-Pul, Laghman, Parwan, Kapisa, Uruzgan, Wardak, and Ghor. The findings of the committee show there is no women media worker in five provinces, including Nuristan, Kunar, Paktia, Paktika, and Zabul. Meanwhile, two female reporters who were working in Zabul and Paktia have left their jobs over the last six months over security issues.
The committee says that four women reporters and two media workers have been killed in direct attacks during the current solar year 1399(2020) that coincides with March 2020 to the end of March 2021. This has had a negative impact on the journalistic activities of women across Afghanistan, the committee added.
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It comes amid a surge in violence against high-profile figures, civil rights activists, and journalists. Three female employees of Enhikass TV network in Nangarhar province, eastern Afghanistan, were killed in two separate but simultaneous attacks by gunmen in the city of Jalalabad last week.
European Union in Afghanistan has raised its concern over the targeted killings of journalists and in particular, the recent attacks on women media workers. The EU said, “Targeting journalists must stop. Targeting women must stop. The violence in Afghanistan must stop. We mourn together with those affected & reiterate the EU’s resolve to support media and the freedom of speech in Afghanistan.”