Foreign journalists feel the pinch as Taliban tighten grip on Afghanistan

Since their return to power in Afghanistan in 2021, the Taliban have imposed a fundamentalist version of Islam. Foreign journalists, who have been tolerated by the regime, say it is becoming more difficult to report freely.

“Since the takeover, it’s been getting more and more difficult to report,” Kiana Hayeri told RFI while on a visit to Bayeux in Normandy earlier this month.

“So far, as foreigners we’ve been privileged compared to Afghan journalists, but it’s getting more difficult and it’s going to get worse”.

The Iranian-Canadian photojournalist has been based in Kabul for some time now, benefiting from her status as a foreigner.

Hayeri says her appearance, her double nationality and the fact that she speaks the language have been a blessing, particularly when visiting Herat women’s prison, in western Afghanistan.

“I was able to go in for 15 days. For the first few days I had somebody with me but then I was on my own. So definitely my identity has been a privilege but now, with the Taliban coming back into power, it’s actually a disadvantage."

She spent time with women who had been jailed for murdering their husbands, a theme all too common in a country where women are considered second-rate citizens, and have no legal recourse to challenge their husbands in cases of domestic violence.

What will happen now that the Taliban are cutting back on accreditation for journalists covering stories like these, she wonders.

Forgotten promises

The title of Hayeri’s exhibition, "Promises written on the ice, left in the sun", sums up the dilemma faced by Afghan women.

Read more on RFI

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