Threats and violence against women journalists in Herat, Afghanistan are forcing women out of their careers and preventing others from working in the field they studied.
After the fall of the Taleban, many women began studying to be journalists. In the last four terms, 54 women have graduated from the journalism department of the University of Herat. However, only 15 of these graduates are currently working in the field, a result of the violence and hostility women journalists encounter.
Women journalists face much greater risks than men due to traditional gender expectations. Traditionally, women are not supposed to work outside the home. Working as a journalist is particularly public, increasing the danger of violent backlash from conservative vigilantes and groups such as Hezb-e-Islami. Violence against women journalists has been potentially life-threatening: two grenades were thrown into one journalist’s home, and another was stabbed in the stomach at her home. Inadequate security makes such attacks more likely, and security officials have accused women of lying rather than prosecuting attackers.
Because of the risk of violence, many women decide to become teachers instead of pursuing employment in the media. Survivors of violent attacks are often forced to leave behind successful journalism careers. Women who do work in the media face hostility on a daily basis, including being insulted while out reporting.
Compiled from: Shapoor Saber, “Women Reporters Under Threat in Herat,” Institute for War and Peace Reporting (24 June 2009).