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The Social Media: Space and Privacy for Afghan Women

Media and Women Development in Afghanistan

4.3 The Social Media: Space and Privacy for Afghan Women

After the fall of the Taliban regime, international news channels covered the domestic and political violence against women in Afghanistan. People around the world knew Afghan women through international news, which created an image of Afghan women as the most oppressed and vulnerable group in Afghanistan and that is basically accurate. After the fall of Taliban and establishment of new government, the political and cultural position of Afghan women has improved substantially.


As Flanders stated in her report on Afghan women entitled ―Speak behind the Media Veil‖: ―We have begun to see a lot in the media lately about the oppression of women under the Taliban. We have begun, finally, to hear about the women whom the Taliban ban from working, keep out of school, flog for wearing makeup, even execute‖ (Flanders 2004:2).

Such reports have observed a change after the fall of the Taliban with regard to women activities in Afghanistan, indicating that the social space for women has expanded and now in most areas i.e. big cities women go to school, work outside their homes and participate in social affairs. The representation of Afghan women through women‘s media is a mechanism to assist the process of change for Afghan women after the Taliban regime. With the presence of the Afghan women‘s media, it is anticipated that Afghan women working in the media will represent women through the eyes of Afghan women themselves (Flanders 2004:2).

It had been argued that the media representation of women has a huge impact on the development of positive or negative perceptions of women‘s images in any society. The dominant image of Afghan women wearing the Burqa in the media during the Taliban regime was subordinate, weak, oppressed, and vulnerable. Again it had been argued, that the negative representation of women in the media has negative impacts on the self-esteem and confidence of women as well as a negative impact on the perception of women in a society. The positive representation of women is argued to change the power relationship and create respect for women (Joshi 2015:39).

One of the most important social media, which was the privacy for women in Afghanistan, is the radio station named Zohrah Radio which was launched by Zarghuna Hassan from Kunduz. She was born in 1980 and is unmarried. Until 2009 she was the chief editor of Radio Zohrah. According to Zarghuna Hassan it was so difficult to find empowered women who were ready to work for media. She helped to organise courses on journalism training through some institutions for women in Kabul with the aim of having greater role and more participation of women in the media. In fact the main purpose of Radio Zohrah is women's empowerment and increasing their awareness.


Since people‘s mind is controlled by the media, Zarghuna tried to increase the number of radio outlets in Kabul so that as she says:

―In this way women who are mothers of the families and play an important role in the future of their children and society could understand that war is enough and it is time to think about reconstruction‖ (dw.com).

Radio Zohrah was the first local audio media that began to work after the fall of the Taliban in the province of Kabul. Currently, it has achieved self-sufficiency, working through the whole 24 hours uninterrupted, and covering up to 55 km of the surroundings. It pays for its expenses by accepting advertisements and more than 20 people work there officially and with honor. It is run by Najia Khudayar and majority of the employees are women.

Zarghuna Hassan invites most of the Islamic scholars to their programs in order to bring them in their fold. However the Taliban who follow the Islamic law strictly consider her and other women's rights activists as the agents of Western influence, threatening the basic morality of the country.

In the same year, Zarghuna Hassan founded Radio Keihan with her personal capital and hired a number of boys. She believed that those boys who joined the Taliban did not have sufficient awareness or they joined Taliban due to poverty.

Therefore, there was the need to provide a job and educate them. Currently, Radio Keihan is a well-known radio with more fans in Kunduz province which provides recreation and fun for the youth and gives them useful messages.

Radio Keihan provided a platform for 50 boys of Kunduz to make positive changes in their community. These young people who are mostly school students or university students are active in various fields of sports, health; culture, society, politics, economy, human rights and anti-corruption. They produce different programs and broadcast them. The station operates from 6 am to 12 pm and covers 40 km of the surroundings. Radio Keihan earns through advertisements as well (bokhdinews.af).

In 2014 Zarghuna Hassan established another radio channel, particularly for mothers, called ―Shayestah‖ and only mothers can work over here. The aim of Radio Keihan is raising the mothers‘ ability and knowledge while the purpose of Radio Shayestah is for mothers‘ to attempt for a better society and bring peace in that region


of crisis. Radio Shayestah tries to make women aware of their rights addressing uncommon or banned issues of women, such as reproductive health and domestic violence.

One of the important programs of this radio is called ―Undesirable Traditions‖

with a critical approach to some centuries-old traditions in Afghanistan such as forced marriage of young girls, suggesting some solutions to settle the disputes. ―Introducing Elite‖ is a program that interviews with women who have achieved great success in politics and other areas of activities or women who are, in any way, ready to help Afghan women and can be role models for them.