October 22, 2018
Media and journalists played crucial role in covering the weekend’s (October 20) parliamentary elections, with the women reporters particularly having a very active role to inform people what was happening in the polling stations and other issues related to election process.
People were informed about the electoral campaigns and the voting day through different sources such as audiovisual, printing and social media. Women journalists did their best to feed people with accurate, timely and reliable news and other reports from the election events.
Hasiba Atakpal, the Tolo News reporter who had visited the eastern province of Nangarhar for covering election process, told the Center for Protection of Afghan Women Journalists (CPAWJ) that election in the province was not free of security and technical problems, but local government officials, security organs and spokespersons helped journalists with informing them about events and incidents even through telephone and there was no obstacle before journalists especially woman reporters.
“I had worn clothes that are not common in Nangarhar, but I was feeling more comfortable there than in Kabul. There were no obstacles, harassments and disturbing for the women journalists there,” she said.
Farahnaz Forugh, another female journalist working for the Zan (Woman) TV, who was in the west part of Kabul on the Election Day, said she was provided by every kind of facility and safety from the media she is working for.
She was at the polling site in the early morning while the site had not been opened and voters had not come, so police officers stopped her. “Police officers asked me what I was doing there. I replied that I am journalist and was there to prepare reports. Then they checked my ID card and let me go inside for covering the voting,” she said.
Mahbooba Karimi, reporter in the Radio Killid (Key), spoke about the Election Day, saying that people and security forces had good behavior with journalists especially with her as a lady. However, she said that employees of the election commission and monitors working for the candidates refused to give information and didn’t allow her go to the polling sites because they were thinking that media workers were not allowed to receive information.
Seddiqollah Tawhidi, head of the Committee for Afghan Journalists’ Safety, told the CPAWJ in an exclusive interview that there was no difference in the media covering of the 2018 election and previous elections. He added that journalists did their best in reporting about election process from the voter registration to the campaigns and Election Day as well as the second day of election.
Tawhidi said that this was the media and reporters who conveyed violations and people’s complaints to the electoral bodies that caused consecutive press conferences and speak about their assessments of violations and meeting the complaints.
“Prior to the October 20 parliamentary election, we had contacts with the security forces and asked them to cooperate with journalists for covering electoral events and provide security for them,” he said.
Media refrained from reporting of terrorist incidents with the coordination of the ministry of interior because it scared people, according to Tawhidi, who added that media’s role was to encourage people more to go to ballot boxes.
“This was the only election in which two cases of violence against journalists were registered: one in Logar province a journalist’s vehicle was shot without casualties, and the second was in Kapisa province in which a parliament journalist was beaten up by a parliament candidate.”
Media play multiple roles in the elections. They are like people’s spokespersons and convey their demands to officials. They also display the results of people’s viewpoints.
Reporting by: Beheshta Ayoubi
Editing by: Center for Protection of Afghan Women Journalists