Photo: UNAMA

Watchdog Reports Absence of Female Journalists in 19 Provinces 

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – The Afghanistan Journalists’ Support Organization (AJSO), a German-based Afghan media watchdog, says that there are currently no female journalists or media workers in 19 provinces of Afghanistan.

In a report released on Friday, March 8th, AJSO said that following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, only 68 TV channels remain operational out of the 248 that were active during the previous government.

The report indicates that out of 438 radio stations, 211 are currently active, and only 13 out of 91 print newspapers are still operational in the country. Additionally, it notes that fewer than 600 women journalists are employed across these media platforms.

“This fact shows that in more than half of the country, the voices of women, who constitute half of the society, have been silenced. This is a clear violation of human rights in the country.”

Since their takeover of Afghanistan, the Taliban have imposed increasing restrictions on journalists and media workers in the country, issuing multiple directives that severely limit freedom of the press and access to information.

Organizations supporting the media say that the Taliban’s media restrictions have significantly undermined freedom of expression, leading to increased self-censorship and a significant reduction in media access to essential information.

 “The Taliban threaten and imprison journalists and media workers every time with the smallest excuse,” the report said. “The beatings on the bodies of the journalists released from the Taliban are a clear proof of this unfortunate situation and an attack on the values of freedom of expression.” 

Female journalists have faced more restrictions than their male counterparts. The ruling regime in Afghanistan has enforced gender-based segregation in workplaces and recently prohibit women’s voices and phone calls from being broadcast in certain provinces.

The report also highlights that following the political changes in Afghanistan, 95% of the media outlets have seen a departure of their female employees. Those who remain active are grappling with numerous restrictions, leading some to abandon their jobs and professions.

“Most of the government officials are not willing to talk to the female reporters either in person or by phone. Women have also been banned from participating in press and media conferences.”

According to the media watchdog, journalists lack the freedom to produce critical reports and are not permitted to include critical public opinions in their daily coverage.

The regime in Afghanistan, as outlined in the report, has made it compulsory for all media in the country to submit to its intelligence agency a list of their journalists, including the details of their ID cards and photos. Failure to adhere to this requirement will hold the media manager accountable.

“In some cases, to publish news related to Taliban activities in a positive way, cash is distributed to journalists to publish and broadcast it in their media.”