To mark Human Rights Day on December 10, the International Federation of Journalists and the Network of Women in Media, India launched a joint report called “In Their Own Words: Afghan Women Journalists Speak”. In the report, women journalists explain how they’ve struggled for their rights and to do their jobs since the Taliban takeover in August 2021.
“This report underscores the plight of Afghan women journalists and the intensification of the Taliban’s campaign against women’s rights, to stifle press freedom and to cripple Afghanistan’s media,” .
highlights “threats to life and livelihood” by interviewing Afghan women journalists, both in the country and those who have fled. It claims that “over 257 media outlets have closed in the country since the takeover”, adding that more than 70 percent of media workers (from all genders) have fled the country or been left unemployed. The report adds that there is an “unprecedented contraction in the number of women journalists in Afghanistan”.
Quoting a survey by , the report states that “fewer than 100 women journalists are still formally working in privately-owned radio and TV stations in the Afghan capital” as opposed to over 700 in 2020.
“Since I was the breadwinner of my family of eight, we are now facing economic challenges due to losing my job. Unfortunately, the arrival of the Taliban in Kabul took away our work and life,” said an unnamed former broadcast journalist from Maidan Wardak province and Kabul.
“For the women journalists who have fled to another country, the danger of harassment and threats to families are ever-present” the report states, adding that not enough humanitarian aid is being provided by international communities. They also urge to ease visa, asylum, and evacuation processes for those still in the country.
There are around eight interviews in the report, and “the names have been changed for security reasons”. One of them, Noor Begum, who started radio and television stations exclusively for women, recounted how the Taliban had been harassing her enterprise since 2015 with looting and even setting fire to the buildings.
“I moved three houses for three months and I was doing my job at home,” Begum says. But the threats didn’t stop and even her husband was targeted. After multiple attempts and the help of a BBC journalist, she managed to flee the country and is now in the United States of America.