Sediqa Sherzai

The northern Afghan metropolis of Kunduz is just not the sort of place you’d look forward to finding a radio station run by girls, selling girls’s rights. However that is exactly what Radio Roshani is, and it is broadcasting right now regardless of a number of makes an attempt by the Taliban to kill its founder and editor, Sediqa Sherzai.

Radio Roshani broadcasts to a person’s world. In most of Afghanistan, custom has lengthy dictated that girls and women are not often seen or heard exterior the house.

Amazingly, many males truly think about them their property.

In 2008, Sediqa arrange Radio Roshani to problem such attitudes however rapidly discovered herself at loggerheads with the Taliban. Though not in authorities, it has remained a pressure to be reckoned with in lots of elements of the nation. At first it warned Sediqa to cease broadcasting. Then, in 2009, rockets had been fired on the station.

Briefly Sediqa halted broadcasts. She requested the Afghan authorities for defense, nevertheless it turned clear that none was forthcoming. So after a number of days she went again on air, “as a result of we simply could not give in to threats”.

There has continued to be a lot native resistance. Males have typically informed Sediqa that she is main native girls astray, and selling battle between women and men within the dwelling.

“These actions are so unhealthy that you simply should be killed – much more than an American does,” they informed her.

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Hearken to Mike Thomson’s radio report on Sediqa Sherzai and Radio Roshani on The World at One at 13:00 on BBC Radio four – or catch up on-line afterwards

It is a part of a collection on the significance of native radio in locations which can be remoted or suffering from battle – hearken to Mike’s report on the two-wheeled station working in South Sudan’s largest camp for displaced folks right here (from 27 minutes 28 seconds)

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So it was with explicit horror that Sediqa watched Taliban sweep into Kunduz in September 2015, taking full management of the town. Very quickly her telephone rang.

“Somebody talking within the Pashtu language requested me the place I used to be, wanting me to present my actual location,” says Sediqa, who largely speaks Dari (an Afghan model of Persian). “I wasn’t certain who this particular person was and was suspicious. After that I turned off my telephone and did my finest to get away.”

This was a clever precaution. After discovering the radio station’s workers had fled, Taliban fighters destroyed the station’s archives, stole its tools and planted mines within the constructing.

Although they had been ultimately pushed out of the town, the station remained closed for 2 months whereas explosives consultants defused the mines and workers changed the lacking tools. However loss of life threats in opposition to Sediqa and her group have continued ever since.

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Individuals of Kunduz returning dwelling after the Taliban takeover in 2015

Radio Roshani promotes womens’ rights largely by way of phone-in programmes. One of many commonest issues amongst girls in Kunduz, Sediqa Sherzai says, are disputes that typically come up between wives in polygamous marriages.

“Numerous males, as quickly as they’ve some cash, go for a second or third spouse, and so forth,” Sediqa explains.

Based on Islamic conference, that is acceptable in instances the place the primary spouse can not bear kids, she says, however in follow it is primarily executed “for intercourse life functions”.

The husband is meant to advertise justice and concord amongst his wives always, however Sediqa says they typically do not. Most disputes between wives come up as a result of the husband reveals favouritism to at least one over one other, she says.

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“When the second spouse brings extra kids, she’s being handled extra favourably than the primary. And if the primary or second spouse are illiterate and the person then will get an informed spouse, once more she is handled extra favourably as a result of she is extra educated,” Sediqa says.

Typically the wives who’ve the toughest time are those that didn’t consent to the wedding, having both been offered to the person by their mother and father or given to him in lieu of a relative’s debt.

She provides that it is very uncommon for the ladies to assist each other, and to use collective strain on the husband to behave nicely.

“There may be little understanding or sympathy between them, due to the tensions within the marriage. Some are jealous of different wives as a result of they’re nearer to the husband, whereas they [themselves] are extra distant. So there’s typically hardly any co-operation between them.”

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Whereas Radio Roshani is now the one radio station in Kunduz run by a girl, there are three others that had been launched by girls, and which nonetheless broadcast some programmes for ladies despite the fact that they’re now primarily run by males.

Zohal Noori, who works each for Radio Roshani and one of many different stations, says that some males tune in to girls’s programmes, and that that is serving to to alter attitudes.

Extra are actually prepared to permit their wives to go to work and turn out to be lively within the native economic system, she says.

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A rising quantity are additionally allowing their wives and daughters to be examined in hospitals, Zohal says, thanks largely to an inflow of girls medical doctors. There are nonetheless males, although, who regard this as unacceptable.

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“They take [their wives and daughters] to clerics, who simply inform them to learn specified elements of the Koran. These girls don’t have any possibility however to simply put up with the state of affairs. Some get very depressed and a few have even taken their very own lives,” Zohal says.

But when on the whole the state of affairs for ladies in Kunduz has been bettering, there have additionally been setbacks, partly due to a shaky safety state of affairs – underlined by a brand new main Taliban incursion on 31 August, which led to battles throughout the town.

“There are many assassinations, kidnappings and crime,” Zohal says. “Kidnappings are quite common at evening and issues are simply getting worse and worse.”

Because of this, some households that had begun to permit women to go to high school with their brothers are actually altering their minds.

It is also feared that talks now being held between US and Taliban representatives, might find yourself unravelling the progress made on girls’s rights that Radio Roshani and the opposite girls broadcasters have fought for for thus lengthy.

The concern is that within the haste to tug its forces out of Afghanistan, the US will let the Taliban deliver again Sharia (Islamic regulation).

“We’re hoping that the peace negotiations will turn out to be an actual peace,” Sediqa says. “And never at the price of girls sitting again at dwelling all day, and that each one our achievements are usually not reversed.”

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