Women’s Ra­dio Sta­tion Ca­su­alty of Tal­iban

Herizons - - Arts & Culture Columns -

(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.

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