May 13, 2019 11:48 am

Women’s rights under microscope in Afghanistan as female political adviser killed

A photo of Mina Mangal from the Afghan Presidential Information Coordination Center

A photo of Mina Mangal from the Afghan Presidential Information Coordination Center

Twitter/ Presidential Information Coordination Center
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Gunmen shot dead a former television journalist and adviser to the Afghan parliament in Kabul on Saturday, underlining threats to women and drawing widespread condemnation.

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Mina Mangal, who used to report for prominent TV station Ariana News, was killed by two unidentified men on a motorbike close to her home in eastern Kabul, police spokesman Basir Mujahid said. She had been on her way to work as an adviser to the parliament’s cultural affairs commission.

There was no immediate word on the motive for the attack, but another Kabul police spokesman, Ferdous Farahmarz, said the cause may have been a family dispute.

The killing came during heightened focus on women’s rights ahead of a possible exit of foreign forces from Afghanistan and potential return of the hardline Taliban to a role in government.

READ MORE: High-profile women gunned down in broad daylight in Iraq — sparking concerns of a ‘witch-hunt’ (Oct. 2018) 

Already outraged at worsening security for women in the capital, some Afghans shared her picture on social media and demanded a severe punishment for the perpetrators.

“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,” Zalma Kharooty, an Afghan female journalist, posted on Facebook.

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Afghanistan ranks near the bottom of global indices on gender equality, with forced marriages, honor killings and domestic violence prevalent nationwide, particularly in rural areas.

As U.S.-Taliban peace talks gain momentum, many women fear losing hard-earned freedoms since U.S.-backed Afghan forces overthrew the austere Taliban in 2001. During their 1996-2001 rule, the Taliban barred women from working outside their homes and required them to be accompanied by a male relative.

READ MORE: 13 dead after Taliban suicide bomber, gunmen attack police headquarters in northern Afghanistan

© 2019 Reuters

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