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Rampant sexual harassment remains biggest challenge for Afghan female journalists

(Last Updated On: April 14, 2016)

Afghan-women

The Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC) in its recent survey said that more than 70 percent of Afghan women journalists are under sexual harassment during their jobs.

The survey carried out in seven provinces of Afghanistan in Central, South, East and North zones from 100 Afghan women journalists.

“Generally, 69 percent of the participants in the survey said that they had been sexually harassed during their jobs and 59 percent of them sexually harassed by their colleagues,” Najibullah, head of AJSC said.

According to AJSC findings, most of the families in south and eastern zones of Afghanistan prevent their daughters to work in media outlets.

More and more women are entering journalism, a profession long reserved for men. Some have chosen to focus on investigative reporting, covering human rights violations, corruption or other subjects that are off-limits in their society. Like their male colleagues, they are the targets of threats, intimidation, physical violence and even murder because of their reporting.

But because they are women, the harassment often takes specific, gender-based forms, including sexual smears, violence of a sexual nature and threats against their families. The very fact of being a woman journalist is regarded in some societies as a “violation of social norms” and may lead to reprisals.

For women journalists, it is also difficult to have access to accurate resources and information and most of the time government officials, including the local people, deny trust to the woman journalists and do not provide any information.

Religious leaders in the mosques are another group women journalists need to have access to. These leaders do not trust women journalists and refuse to provide any information.

In Afghanistan’s male-dominated society, women journalists are forced to confront cultural taboos on a daily basis, usually starting at home. Rigid inequality between men and women is widely assumed and reinforced. In many places, a woman’s presence outside the home is considered inappropriate. In this context, it comes as no surprise that most families refuse to allow female relatives to work in the media. The security situation in the country has added another set of restrictions on what women can and cannot do.

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