A well-known Afghan television journalist was shot dead in broad daylight in Kabul over the weekend, prompting an outcry from women’s rights advocates.
Mina Mangal, who worked for several Afghan television channels and later became an adviser in Afghanistan’s parliament, was apparently en route to work early Saturday morning when she was attacked.
Police spokesman Basir Mujahid told Reuters that she was killed near her Kabul home by two unknown men on a motorbike.
The motive behind the attack is not yet clear. Ariana News, one of the news outlets where she worked, quoted a security official saying that “the motive behind Ms. Mangal’s assassination was a family and private matter.”
“I have lost an intelligent and active daughter because of a family dispute issue,” Mangal’s father told the BBC. “I am asking the government why they could not protect my working daughter and I have lost her. I urge them to protect my other daughters and other women like them who come out of home and serve our society.”
“Can’t stop my tears at the loss of this beautiful soul,” women’s rights activist Wazhma Frogh said in a post on Twitter. “She had a loud voice, & actively raising voice for her people.”
Frogh posted a photo from Mangal’s Facebook account. “In this Facebook status she says she’s threatened & she says she … trusts her Allah & that a strong woman isn’t scared of death,” Frogh wrote. “She had already stated publicly that she’s threatened and nothing was done to prevent it.”
Violence against women is extremely prevalent in Afghanistan. According to the U.N., 51 percent of women there experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner sometime in their lifetime, and 46 percent of women experienced those forms of violence in the last 12 months.
The killing is also prompting other female journalists in Afghanistan to demand that the government work on keeping them safe. “In a country where my life is in danger as a journalist, I want the government not to show appreciation for our work but to focus on how to protect us,” journalist Zalma Kharooty said in a post on Facebook, according to Reuters.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus described Mangal’s death as a “brutal murder.” She wrote in a post on Twitter: “A free and independent press, including the security of reporters like Mina, is essential to allow democracy to flourish in #Afghanistan and around the world.”
Since 1994, at least 48 journalists have been killed in Afghanistan, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
According to the BBC, one of the programs that Mangal hosted was a show about women’s rights.
This spring, the U.S. has been holding discussions with representatives from the Taliban to push for a peace agreement. Some observers have expressed concern about how such an agreement might impact Afghanistan’s women.
“The prospect of a peace agreement with the Taliban raises new concerns about the sustainability of the gains Afghan women have made over the past 17 years,” said the latest report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. “Some experts believe that a precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces could lead to the deterioration of political and economic freedoms, however limited, currently enjoyed by women in Afghanistan.”