Taliban leaders are being encouraged to provide immediate guarantees securing the freedom and safety of women journalists in Afghanistan, as Reporters Without Borders (RSF) warned in a statement that hundreds of them had been confined to their homes since the new regime took over.
According to RSF, less than 100 women journalists were still formally working at radio and television stations in Kabul. This is a sharp decline from 700 women journalists last year.
The RSF statement said most women journalists had been forced to stop working in other provinces, where nearly all privately owned media outlets ceased operations as Taliban took over.
Outside the capital, RSF said only a “handful of women journalists are still more or less managing to work from home.” This is in sharp contrast to 1,700 women journalists employed in the provinces of Kabul, Herat, and Balkh.
RSF also noted that female reporters associated with TOLOnews, Ariana News, Kabul News, Shamshad TV, and Khurshid TV started getting harassed soon after the Taliban took control of Kabul. Nahid Bashardost of the independent news agency Pajhwok was beaten by Taliban militants while doing a report near Kabul airport on August 25.
In the statement issued on August 31, RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said “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.”
Although the Taliban have been attempting to project an image of themselves as moderates in the global media, experts say there is growing evidence that the reality on the ground is much different.
Reports of summary executions and house-to-house searches for those who worked with international groups or the previous government has greatly increased a sense of insecurity across the country.