The Conservative Jihad on our Media

Abdul Satar Khawasi

Afghan women are trying to get their rights, but they encounter more and more challenges by the day.

A few weeks ago women struggled to get Parliament to pass the law on eliminating violence against women, but the efforts were rejected by religious extremists. Now many of these same ministers in Parliament are saying the media should not even broadcast news about the violence men do to Afghan women.

These ministers are saying the media shows only one side: it shows the side of the women who experienced violence, but the media doesn’t care about what happens to the husband’s or the family’s reputation in society.

They say these programs are against Islamic values and that most channels are supported by foreign countries with the intent to spread prostitution. The channels show pictures of naked women and they say immoral TV shows will spread misconduct among children and youths. They blame the media for spying and say the media is a disaster for the community. They say the media must be stopped, so now we are supposed to declare jihad against the media. 

Jihad and Islam are two phenomena that have always been a strong tool for extremist religious groups to use for taking power and influencing people. 

Instead of solving the real public challenges, they always are worrying about women’s clothing and veils and what the media is broadcasting. They pretend that women are the big problem for Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is still at war and has encountered enormous challenges; there is increasing drug addiction, HIV, unemployment, and child abuse, while the majority of people are already traumatized from thirty years of war and millions of other problems.  However, these groups do nothing to solve these social problems, because the only thing they can focus on is women.

At this point I have come to agree that the ministers of Afghanistan’s parliament are no better then the Taliban. They have the same ideas about the women and media. They do not believe in democracy, but rather, they regard it as the big threat to holding onto their power.

If they think that these TV channels are against Islamic values, then it is better for them to change the channel and not watch. On the one hand, you people are the cause of most of the corruption in Afghanistan, while on the other hand you condemn it. 

According to Parliament, the media should not rise up against the violence against women because of the risk to their husbands’ reputations.  It doesn’t matter that the women are suffering or even dying from torture.  Women are burned, their noses are cut off, their nails pulled out, and they are shaved. You, Parliament, don’t care about this brutality, but you care about men’s reputations, which you say must not be damaged at any cost.  By declaring jihad against the media, women will continue to be repressed, but without the world knowing.

So tell me what is the difference between the Taliban and these people who pretend to be civil?

By Sitara

Abdul Sattar Khawasi, a legislator from central Parwan, on Saturday (June 15, 2013) said most TV programmes were misleading. “TV channels are not for the correction of people, but are tasked with misleading the Muslims of Afghanistan by non-Muslim groups,” he alleged during Saturday session of the lower house. 

The MP said there should be a jihad against TV channels promoting culture and religious beliefs of others through dramas and films.


  1. Elizabeth Titus says:

    Dear Sitara,
    Thank you for speaking out so bravely. I am grappling with all of the issues in your country today, attempting to understand as best I can, because of my Afghan women friends here in the U.S.

    But I just cannot comprehend how the husband’s reputation in society takes priority over women who have been abused. It makes no sense. Worse, it is true.

  2. Allison Walker says:

    Dear Sitara,
    I agree with what you say, concerning the corruptions in Afghanistan’s government and some of their rhetoric; however, in one of their arguments against the prevalence of the media, they have a point.

    Recently, a radical feminist group started protesting around the world against “misogyny” and other “problems” by protesting half naked in public. Footage and photographs of them circulated throughout news outlets all around the world. Including pornography outlets, according to word of mouth.

    If this occurrence can happen to this feminist group, why not to Afghan rape victims? Now, I haven’t seen much footage or photographs of the rape and abuse victims; however, if they do depict graphic nudity or other themes related to sexuality (and, sadly, bruises and other signs of abuse also have their share in the disgusting world of pornography) they can and will be used to, as the Afghan government claimed, “spread misconduct among children and youths,” not to mention numerous adults around the world, and leave the sad, urgent message that the footage were supposed to send totally out of the picture.

    I will repeat: I heartily agree that your government is corrupt and weak against extremist ideologies and forces; however, as stated above, they do have a point in their arguments.

  3. Dear Sitara: Thank you for writing this. Nothing makes me angrier than people who declare that talking about a problem is worse than the problem itself. And with all due respect to the poster above, the ministers and complainers seem way more concerned with notions of family honor and silencing victims than in any kind of justice or protection for victims.

    Brava to you for speaking up against this. Unfortunately it seems that whenever there are truthtellers, there’s always someone around to tell them they are wrong to do this. Brava to you for opening the windows and the doors. As a former US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said: “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”

    All best,

  4. Keya Mitra says:

    Dear Sitara,

    This is a powerful and persuasive piece, and I am very grateful to have worked with you on it. I particularly love the question you pose at the end of the essay–so thought-provoking and compelling. You make an important point that so many critical social issues and problems right now are being disregarded and unaddressed. You effectively and courageously point to much of the hypocrisy and neglect of the ministers. Thank you for writing and sharing this bold and convincing essay!

    With admiration,


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