CNN chief worldwide correspondent Clarissa Ward has a well-earned status for bravely reporting from a number of the world’s most harmful and precarious locations. Nonetheless, in latest days, issues for her and different feminine journalists in Afghanistan have grown exponentially following the autumn of Kabul and the Taliban taking on the nation.
Talking to The Every day Beast on Tuesday, Ward mentioned that whereas she personally feels “fairly secure on the streets the final couple of days,” it’s a “totally different story” for Afghan feminine journalists now that the Taliban is in cost.
The optics of Ward’s stay experiences actually modified in a single day as soon as the Taliban—infamous for its overt misogyny and violence in the direction of ladies—entered the Afghan capital and regained control amid a frantic withdrawal of American personnel.
Reporting from the streets of Kabul on Monday, Ward notably wore an abaya and hijab whereas talking with Afghan residents and Taliban fighters. “Definitely the costume code for me has modified,” she mentioned throughout her on-air report, later noting that she’s commonly worn a headband on the streets previous to the Taliban’s takeover, however not on this method. At one other level, she informed CNN viewers that Taliban fighters “told me to stand to the side because I’m a woman.”
Standing on a avenue nook with militants brandishing firearms behind her within the background, Ward reported that there have been numerous individuals “who aren’t out on the streets, who don’t really feel secure, who’re petrified, who’re questioning what the long run will convey, who’re hiding out. There are tens of 1000’s, if not a whole bunch of 1000’s, of them throughout this metropolis.”
And but the Islamist group has actively sought to painting itself as a non-threatening drive. It’s a deliberate public-relations technique, Ward informed The Every day Beast on Tuesday.
“The Taliban could be very eager to showcase that they could be a extra diplomatic and an efficient political drive for the time being they know that the world is watching,” she mentioned. “And they also wish to be sure that they behave in a manner that’s in accordance with worldwide norms so to that finish they’ve been fairly cordial with the media, and I haven’t had any issues on the road.”
(Equally, throughout her Monday report, Ward famous for viewers how “completely weird” it was to look at Taliban fighters chant “Loss of life to America” but “appear pleasant on the identical time,” smiling and posing for images. A deceptively edited clip of her feedback quickly made the rounds among right-wing media and politicians, who smeared her as a “cheerleader” for the Taliban. CNN, and lots of others, roundly rejected such assaults.)
Requested concerning the risks Afghan female journalists now face underneath the Taliban, Ward applauded the ladies who’ve continued to do their jobs amid dire uncertainty. Their bravery, she mentioned, is heightened by the truth that they face a larger risk than she ever would as an American lady.
“We noticed a few of them at [Kabul-based network] TOLO TV truly return to work at present… I used to be simply in awe of their braveness as a result of they face a really totally different scenario on the bottom than I do,” Ward informed The Every day Beast. “As a westerner, I’m allowed to get away with all types of issues, however they’re held to a distinct normal, and the risk for them is way larger so I believe they’re simply tremendously courageous.”
Nonetheless, she added, “the Taliban has mentioned again and again that they are going to respect the rights of ladies, that it’ll enable ladies to work, however then they’ve additionally mentioned that it should be inside the realm of their interpretation of Sharia legislation, which signifies that women and men can’t work in the identical place collectively, ladies should put on a full veil that covers even their face.
“So I do suppose it can turn into extremely tough for lots of those feminine journalists to do their jobs.”
In line with Karin Nazich, co-founding director of the Coalition for Ladies in Journalism, feminine journalists in Afghanistan are notably at risk. “Day-after-day we’re listening to diverse tales of ladies who’re being threatened instantly, being tracked down at first after which reached out by totally different Taliban,” she mentioned. “So we’re very involved about ladies journalists and their security particularly.”
The Taliban’s makes an attempt to painting a softer public picture of themselves on the worldwide stage, Nazich added, is “a part of their PR. I don’t suppose it’s going to be run peacefully.”
“Journalists who’re attempting to flee are doing so as a result of they imagine they’re in grave hazard. Some know that they’re already on lists, some have had the Taliban come to their houses. They worry for his or her lives and people of their households,” added Elisa Lees Muñoz, govt director of the D.C.-based Worldwide Ladies’s Media Basis, which is “working with quite a few teams to get as many journalists as potential overseas who’re attempting to depart,” she mentioned.
Sabur Shah Dawod Zai, CEO of the Bin Dawod Basis, an Afghan fundraising group for youngsters and ladies, agreed, going additional to make extra dire predictions about ladies journalists within the nation. A Taliban media representative’s sitdown with a TOLO female news anchor was “only for present,” he warned, including that the Islamist group “will kill all of the journalists and authorities staff as soon as they’ve absolutely established energy.”
Ward informed The Every day Beast that whereas she had not “personally been confronted with tales” of militants raiding houses and concentrating on Afghan feminine journalists, she has “heard of searches” already underway—although she has not verified who has carried out such actions. Whereas Ward “can be stunned if within the close to future these ladies have been bodily harmed,” she “would completely be involved for his or her safety” sooner or later.
“If the tone is ready as one through which ladies shouldn’t be seen within the streets and ladies shouldn’t be working in entrance of the digicam then, after all, that may actually give others the sense that they will come out and assault ladies who’re doing a lot of these work,” she mentioned.
As for whether or not or not Ward and her crew are involved for their very own security and have made any plans to exit Afghanistan, the CNN star informed The Every day Beast that as a result of the scenario is so fluid, all she will be able to do is proceed to report.
“The precedence on the bottom for our crew is at all times our crew’s safety and ensuring that all of us get out safely when we have to do this, and we’re always reassessing the safety scenario on the bottom, and always ensuring that now we have a plan in place ought to we have to get out,” she mentioned. “That plan is at all times altering because the safety is altering, nevertheless it’s one thing that we watch very intently.”
She concluded: “For now although, I believe we really feel privileged to be right here and to inform this story.”