Afghan campaigner: 'Gunmen came to my house. There was nowhere to run'

Najiba Ayubi is a journalist working in Afghanistan
Najiba Ayubi is a journalist working in Afghanistan  Photo: GETTY

Women working in Afghanistan as human rights defenders, face violence threats and assassinations, according to a new Amnesty International report. What's more, it says, they are being ignored by their government.

It shows that those who campaign for women's rights - such as police, doctors, teachers, journalists and laywers - have been targeted by the Taliban, warlords and government officials.

Najiba Ayubi, a journalist who heads one of the country's biggest private media groups, Killid, is one of those women. In the 25 years that she has been working as an investigative reporter, she has faced numerous threats.

Here, she tells us what it's like campaigning for justice in a country where she feels the government has turned its back on her:

"It’s very risky working here. There are a lot of gangs in the cities.

But it’s riskier if you’re a woman. And even worse if you're a woman and a journalist.

It’s not easy for to uncover corruption in Afghanistan. There are a lot of powerful people with guns. Over the last year we’ve had a lot of threats – phone calls, letters and so on.

In 2012, gunmen came to my house. I’d been investigating two MPs whose bodyguards opened fire in a hospital. After reporting live at the scene, I received threatening phone calls and messages from MPs, as well as the secretary of the Ministry of Information and Culture.

I was told to stop questioning them.

Then, one day when my children were playing outside, two gunmen came to my home and scared my family. I pretended to be someone else through the locked door. We had nothing for protection. Even some of my friends called me and said, 'keep quiet'.

Gunmen have also come to my office – they were brought by a regional official. The official told me he would not accept criticism from a woman.

I have heard this before. In 2007, someone threw rocks through my window with a letter telling me to stop reporting or 'you can imagine what we will do to you.'

At the office, we have people calling us and saying, 'why are you working on this issue? What’s your aim?' They say, 'you’re lying', and 'stop this reporting, otherwise you know what we’ll do.'

Once our reporter was working on a story about a police officer shooting a student. He went to cover it and got there before the investigating officer. When he arrived, the officer became very angry and took everything from the reporter – his recorder, his camera. The journalist called me and said, what do I do?

I told him to use his phone to broadcast the scene. The investigating officer then called me and said, 'please stop reporting'. He said, 'You do realise that you’re a woman? Stay clear. Do you know what I’m saying?'

We often have threats from the police. This is our reality. Being a woman in Afghanistan is an issue. If you’re working outside of the home, it’s another problem. If you’re working as a journalist, there will be more and more difficulties.

The government should implement the law. There are rules in place to protect Afghan women, but they’re being ignored. We have lost three or four female journalists but no one will tell us what happened, and why they were killed. There’s no protection for women here.

The government say they want to support freedom of expression. But they aren’t doing that.

We have to continue - even if there are threats."

Source : telegraph[dot]co[dot]uk
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