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Fewer than 100 of 700 female journalists still working in Kabul, RSF warns

Paris, Sep 1 (EFE).- Fewer than 100 of the 700 female journalists who worked in Kabul before the Taliban takeover are still formally working, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Wednesday.

“Women journalists must be able to resume working without being harassed as soon as possible, because it is their most basic right, because it is essential for their livelihood, and also because their absence from the media landscape would have the effect of silencing all Afghan women,” said RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire in a statement.

A study carried out by RSF with the Centre for the Protection of Afghan Women Journalists (CPAWJ) established that in Kabul in 2020 there were 108 media outlets employing 4,940 people, 1,080 of whom were women – 700 of them journalists.

Now there are “fewer than 100 women journalists are still formally working in privately-owned radio and TV stations in the Afghan capital,” RSF said.

Of 510 women that were employed in the eight largest media outlets in the capital, only 76, including 39 journalists, are still currently working.

The situation is worse in the provinces where practically all privately-owned media outlets ceased operations when the Taliban advanced, and most women have had to stop working.

In the RSF/CPAWJ study last year, there were more than 1,700 women journalists working in the provinces of Kabul, Herat and Balkh.

The journalists’ advocacy organization cited examples of how Taliban pressure and harassment of female journalists has forced them out.

Just 48 hours after the occupation of the city, women reappeared on the capital’s private television networks, such as Tolonews, Ariana News, Kabul News, Shamshad TV and Khurshid TV.

Pajhwok news agency journalist Nahid Bashardost was beaten by the Taliban when she was reporting on Aug. 25 near Kabul airport, while others have told how the Taliban has stopped them from going outside newsrooms to cover events, or told them not to play music or have a woman’s voice on air, RSF said.

Executives and editors with privately-owned outlets have said that, under pressure, they have advised their women journalists to stay home, it added.

The organization recalled that after the Aug. 15 capture of Kabul, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid assured that women would be able to “return to work in a few days,” but in practice no measures have been announced.

RSF’s Deloire called on the Taliban leaders to “provide immediate guarantees for the freedom and safety of women journalists.”

RSF stressed that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has warned that for the international community, “a fundamental red line will be the Taliban’s treatment of women and girls, and respect for their rights to liberty, freedom of movement, education, self-expression and employment, guided by international human rights norms.” EFE


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