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Verbal harassment the main challenge women journalists facing

April 11, 2019

KABUL

Street harassments and unpleasant behaviors in the society besides threat, violence, lack of access to information and little payments have restricted the field of activity for women journalists.

When women reporters appear among people in the streets and public areas for reporting and taking their opinions, they face unpleasant social treatments, woman-hating looks and harassing words.

Najwa Alemi is a journalist who has been facing verbal harassments, disgrace and unpleasant social treatments several times in Kabul city. She says that she is worried of harassments by some persons when she goes to public areas for reporting.

“When I want to take someone’s opinion, at first he doesn’t answer me and even impolitely disgrace me. Sometimes, they touch me and go away fast,” Ms. Alemi says.

This challenge against women reporters is not only in Kabul, but they are concerned of this behavior in other provinces too and call it a big challenge against their reporting.

In the northern province of Balkh that is called center of culture, women journalists are not safe from verbal harassments, impolite looking and street words.

Homaira Moradi, a journalist working for the local Arezoo TV in Mazar-e-Sahrif city, the provincial capital says: “I am working here for two years. During my career, I have faced street words in the city several times. I remember some sentences that I have been told such as ‘girls don’t deserve reporting’ or ‘hey young girl, go away because you are too little for reporting and interviewing’ or ‘how much will you pay me for interviewing?’ or even they tell me ‘will you be my girlfriend?’. We women reporters hear tens of such words.”

Ms. Moradi says that women reporters’ fight against these challenges can pave the ground for other women.

Elina Rasa is another journalist who is working in the Jawzjan, a province neighboring Balkh. She has been working with the private media companies for four years. She says that street harassments and words have overshadowed women reporters to work. Ms. Rasa believes that working for the media in a society like Afghanistan is very difficult. “There are some people who explain their opposition with women journalists with saying meaningless and impolite words. Despite these problems, we women journalists continue working in the media with more ability and no challenge and restriction can prevent us to be active as journalists,” she says.

These challenges are seen in the remote countries as well against women journalists.

Shogoofa Shinwari who has been working as a journalist for the local Radio Royan in the northern province of Baghlan, thinks that verbal harassments and street literature are the big challenges before women journalists. She says that some people use some vulgar honor words to women reporters. Baghlan is a severe traditional society where people think that it is too bad for a woman to work with the media. Women journalists are the victims of insecure situation, harassments and street words in the province.

“Street harassments and using of unsuitable and violent words for women reporters are big challenges before their reporting activities in addition to security problems that are too much,” says Makia Monir, head of coordination center for women journalists. She says that “unfortunately”, women reporters are not comfortable to go to public areas for reporting, because they sometimes face violent behaviors and vulgar words.

According to her, those people who have come from rural areas to the big cities, mostly make street harassments and use bad words to women journalists, because they do not know about the urban culture. Ms. Monir suggests that public awareness programs about women’s social activities by the media, releasing of spots, implanting of women harassment prevention, arresting and legally punishing those persons who make obstacles before women especially woman journalists can decrease the use of unpleasant words and violence against them.

“Psychologically, illiteracy and poor culture causes weak mutual respects among people in the society. Besides that, lack of trust in women’s ability is an element that some people can’t tolerate to see a female journalist in the society and try to somehow annoy her or at least try to morally disrespect her with a bad word. These issues put an unpleasant impact on the women journalists,” says Ms. Monira Abed, a psychologist.

Verbal harassment is a big challenge before women journalists and their activities. Cultural poverty has also helped woman-hating feelings in the society. A woman journalist is not safe from bad looking and vulgar words when she goes to public areas for reporting. But woman journalists tolerate all these problems and do not abandon their activities in reporting and making programs in the media.

Reported by: Khaleda Rashid

Editing by: Center for Protection of Afghan Women Journalists (CPAWJ)

 

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