July, 07, 2018
Sohaila Weda Khamosh is a prominent Afghan journalist. She has been working with the media for 16 years. Mrs. Khamosh has graduated from the faculty of language and literature, Kabul University and is interested in writing besides doing reporting. She has so far written two short story book title ‘The Last Hope’ and ‘Incomplete Desires’ as well as articles about the transitional justice in Afghanistan.
Below is an interview the Center for Protection of Afghan Woman Journalists has made with Mrs. Khamosh:
QUESTION: How did you get interest in reporting?
ANSWER: I started journalistic work in 2003 with the Cheragh Daily with preparing stories related to criminal incident. Then, I became the in charge of pages 3 and 4 of the newspaper, in which I had to prepare cultural and art stories in addition to collect news about social and security events. Also, writing stories and satires were part of my work.
QUESTION: Please tell us about your achievements in reporting.
ANSWER: I had been praised many times for my work during working with different media outlets, and received several appreciation letters and a trophy for the freedom of expression. The appreciation letters I have received were for premiere and effective stories of mine reflected through media outlets.
QUESTION: Have you received threats during your work with the media? If yes, from who they were? And did the government or the journalists’ rights organization help you in solving your problem?
ANSWER: Yes. I was several times threatened and also beaten up by security forces and the supporters of security officials while working on security and other investigative reports. I was beaten by security forces in the years 2004 and 2005 while covering suicide attacks. The government and sometimes the organization for defending journalists’ rights (NAI) have helped me in solving these issues. But neither of them sided me to basically solve the issues and were just taking number of journalists being threatened or beaten. But the National Association for Journalists were always busy in conflicts to prove one of the two registered was right and the other was not right.
QUESTION: How do you consider working with the media in Afghanistan? Have you ever been censored?
ANSWER: In my opinion, working in the media is very difficult considering the current situation. There are plenty of problems, like: Lack of access to precise information from both the government and opposition groups, lack of reporters’ safety during work, lack of job safety and continuation from the owner and bosses of media outlets, lack of work guarantee because of financial conditions in the outlets, misuse of reporters by the owners of outlets, not implementation of journalist safety law, dual behavior with journalists. In all of these, female journalists are the most victims.
I have been censored many times, but I can’t unveil them because some reasons.
QUESTION: How do you consider media condition generally in Afghanistan? Do we really have freedom of expression?
ANSWER: We have relatively freedom of expression, but it should be noted that the freedom of expression has lost its values compared to the early 2000s like 2002. The reason is either media outlets do not work professionally or powerful individual have influence on their work policies. Either the media is related to this and that or is working like businesspersons.
QUESTION: Will you please share one of your memories with us that you think was interesting for you?
ANSWER: I have many interesting memories during my 16-year career, either funny or tragic. My funny memory is that one night in 2002 or 2003 I was sleeping that suddenly a loud boom woke me up. I thought it was an explosion and got preparing to go to the incident scene. I called police to get information about the blast, they were unaware of any blast. I heard the second and third boom and was out of house then that I look at the sky and knew that I was wrong and it was a thunder in that rainy night.
My tragic memory is that I had to leave my job in the media due to poor economic condition in the outlets and I have to now work unlike my profession in the election commission. When my former colleagues come to the commission for reporting and see me there, they wonder that I am not in the media. This is very hard for me. If the situation goes on like this, we will see journalists working as masons, waiters, laundry workers etc.
We can see some journalists who are now running pizza and burger shops or other small restaurants that is a matter of concern. I think we will have effective and influential media if we integrate some to others. The owners of media outlets need to work together with the support of media defense organizations to improve the situation of media.
QUESTION: What do you think about the media defense organization? Did they manage to support media though capacity buildings?
ANSWER: The work of media defense organizations has been good in the capacity building, but for supporting media, they need to do more works. I don’t know much about the activities of the center for protection of Afghan woman journalists. Just when a body with this title has started to work to defend women journalists is no doubt a good step. We the female journalists hope the center can help us to improve the situation of women journalist and lift problems ahead of them and I personally can go back to media and resume my job as a journalist.
QUESTION: Mrs. Khamosh, we want to know something about your personal life.
ANSWER: I am married and have a daughter named Asenat. I am very happy living with my husband Edris Alokozai. I am proud to live along with my father in law, mother in law and other members of my husband’s family. Let me thank the center for protection of Afghan woman journalists.
Reporting by: Beheshta Ayoubi
Editing by: Center for Protection of Afghan Woman Journalists