Women’s Radio Station Casualty of Taliban
(KUNDUZ) Taliban militants destroyed an Afghan radio station that promoted women’s rights after they took control of the northeastern city of Kunduz in September.
Employees of Radio Roshani fled the city after leaving pre-recorded programs to air, according to station director Sediqa Sherzai, a journalist who once operated an underground school for girls.
“Eyewitnesses told me that armed men looted the station’s equipment before the building was burned down,” Sherzai told Radio Free Europe. “Most of the equipment was brand new and some was not even unpacked.”
Radio Roshani aired programs on peace, and the need for legal reforms and discussed religious issues aimed at uprooting cultural taboos.The radio station and other independent media were targeted when the fighters invaded. Kunduz had been the first city seized by the Taliban since 2001, and this time, the militants were forced out after two months. However, now that the U.S.-led coalition involving Canada is scaling down its military and aid presence, Afghanistan’s security forces are struggling to fill the void.
According to a recent article in the Washington Post, “The billions of Western dollars spent since 2001 to transform Afghanistan into a modern state could come to naught, the gains reversed by a re-energized Taliban.”
The Taliban attacks directly affect female journalists, Lida Yosufzai, an anchor at Radio Kayhan, also overrun by the militants, told the Post. “We had literacy programs and other shows to help women. Now, everything has stopped.”
The station was initially put together by seven female journalists; nine worked there at the time of the attack. Radio Roshani has now started to rebroadcast programs as its equipment is slowly being replaced.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International says the Afghan government has failed to protect female activists, leaving them vulnerable to threats, sexual assault, and assassination.
In a report released last April, the human rights group said that while most threats to women come from the Taliban and armed opposition groups, government officers and warlords also commit crimes against female activists.The report, Their Lives
On The Line, was based on interviews with more than 50 female activists and their relative sin Afghanistan. Amnesty said that despite legal protections, Afghan women’s rights workers who report attacks are put at further risk for speaking out and that Afghan authorities consistently failed to act on threats against women.
Female politicians face ongoing threats. Last February, politician Angiza Shinwari died following a bomb attack on her vehicle in eastern Nangarhar province and woman rights campaigner Shukriya Barekzai narrowly survived a suicide attack in Kabul a year ago.
A women-run radio station in Kunduz, Afghanistan was destroyed by Taliban fighters in September but is now beginning to gather new equipment and re-open.