Afghanistan: Jun ‘09

Leading press freedom organisation praises IWPR investigation on difficulties faced by female Afghan journalists.

Afghanistan: Jun ‘09

Leading press freedom organisation praises IWPR investigation on difficulties faced by female Afghan journalists.

Friday, 7 August, 2009

A leading media watchdog said IWPR’s coverage of the harassment and oppression of women journalists in Herat province in Afghanistan shed light on a serious problem and supported its own findings.

Vincent Brossel of Reporters Sans Frontières, RSF, (Reporters Without Borders) said the item Women Reporters Under Threat in Herat published in June was especially useful because it was written by someone from the area.


The author was Shapoor Saber, a journalist trained by IWPR who is based in Herat, the western Afghanistan district bordering Iran.


The report focused on Khadija Ahadi, who said she had carried on working after she was first threatened. “Then one day they threw two grenades in my house. I have not gone to work since,” she said.


Another, Nilofar Habibi, a newsreader on Herat’s state-run radio and television station, was stabbed in the stomach and later fled the country.


“It gives a clear picture of the situation with the necessary background ... that is what we want from investigative journalists,” said Brossel.


He said it went further than typical reporting of journalists’ issue by other journalists, “This is more than that: the fate of women and the challenges of press freedom in Afghanistan.”


Brossel said RSF heard the same comments on its last visit to Afghanistan, “It fits in with what we found.”


At a news conference in Kabul in January, the organisation urged President Hamed Karzai to do more to protect press freedom. “The country cannot continue to develop and progress towards democracy without a free and independent press,” said delegation leader Jean-François Julliard.


“The president and his government must get fully involved in this issue and must take measures that give journalists more freedom to work.”


Brossel also welcomed the balanced nature of the IWPR report, “It quotes different perspectives including officials. Sometimes it is difficult to get comment from officials.”

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