RSF: 80% of female journalists in Afghanistan ceased work since August 2021

File photo.

In a statement on Friday, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) depicted a somber portrayal of the state of media entities and journalism in Afghanistan, highlighting that over 80% of the country’s female journalists have been compelled to halt their work since August 15, 2021.

Additionally, of the approximately 12,000 journalists – both male and female – who were active in Afghanistan in 2021, more than two-thirds have chosen to exit the profession.

RSF emphasized that the media landscape has been gravely eroded over the past couple of years.

Illustrative of this decline, Taliban recently enforced the closure of Hamisha Bahar television and radio facilities in Nangarhar under sharia law at the outset of August. Consequently, radio stations Nen and Jawanan, utilizing the same broadcasting technology, found themselves bereft of the ability to transmit.

“The tally reveals that over half of the 547 registered media outlets in 2021 have vanished, as reported by the Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA). Among the 150 TV channels, less than 70 persist. The 307 radio stations have dwindled to a mere 170 that remain operational. Likewise, news agencies have seen their numbers dwindle from 31 to 18,” conveyed the organization.

Reporters Without Borders underlined that it has engaged with journalists who, whether within Afghanistan or overseas, are resolutely upholding the essence of Afghan journalism notwithstanding the stringent measures imposed by the Taliban.

“The situation grows more dire with each passing day… I have repeatedly been barred from covering events simply due to my gender,” lamented a woman journalist still active with a Kabul-based TV channel, who preferred to remain anonymous for safety reasons.

“As a female journalist, every action demands careful consideration,” she voiced, revealing that she must appear on camera donning a mask. “Women journalists find themselves excluded from participating in discussions alongside men or posing inquiries to them. This has coerced many female journalists to abandon their careers. A multitude opted to leave the newsroom, electing to remain at home rather than feeling entrapped at their desks.”

Zarif Karimi, the director of NAI-Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan, affirmed that local media outlets have borne the brunt of the impact nationwide. “Should the current trajectory persist, numerous other media organizations will soon confront the prospect of shuttering their operations. Consequently, Afghan journalists are grappling with an identity crisis,” Karimi commented.