In Afghanistan, when we think of the word “stoning”, we remember the names of women who have lost their lives to this notorious practice. Women are always victims of stoning, while conservative Mullahs are often the ones prescribing it.
It was October 2015 when a 30-second video that depicted the last moments of a young woman surfaced on Afghan social media. She was placed in a pit at a hillside near Firuzkuh, the capital of Ghor province. A group of men who surrounded her aimed her body with stones. The video shows her last moments as she falls into death.
Her name was Rukhshana. She was stoned to death for fleeing a forced marriage for a man she loved. “From her waist up, the rocks had ripped her body and some piece of stones had made it inside her ribs,” Hanifa, Rukhshana’s mother told the New York Times.
For the act Rukhshana was killed, her male lover was only lashed. Ghor provincial officials accused the Taliban of orchestrating the crime. But justice was never served.
We can’t forget Rukhshana, the woman who was brutally killed for choosing to leave a forced marriage, for choosing to live with someone she loved.
Our newsroom is named Rukhshana in her memory and to remind ourselves of the depth of gender inequality in Afghanistan, where women are killed over trying to make decisions about their bodies and their private lives. By naming our newsroom Rukhshana, we want every time someone says or hears our name, they remember her and her tragic death at the hands of fanatic Mullahs who still live in impunity.
We created Rukhshana Media to tell the story of women from across Afghanistan, from how they are treated at home to the difficulty of gaining inclusion in a society that religious conservatism and patriarchy have ruled all aspects of social life in the past decades.
In a society that punishes women’s basic choices, such as the freedom to choose their clothes, bringing women’s stories to the forefront of public is a challenging task. However, at Rukhshana Media, our team of women journalists is determined to report on women’s issues as a way to create debates, inform, analyze and investigate issues related to women’s lives.
Rukhshana Media also works to provide educational and work opportunities for women journalists.
Hi, this is Nancy, reporter from the Phoenix Weekly 凤凰周刊 from China. We are now reporting about the journalism situation of Afghanistan after Taliban took over, hope to hear your voice, representing female Afghanistan journalists.
Appreciate your effort and bravery of keeping telling the stories of women in Afghanistan, hope you can insist on.
Would you mind leave an email address here, so I can send some questions to you? Or in what way you prefer to be quoted?
Best regards, Nancy
I am stunned by your bravery, and humbled by this essential work that is a living prayer to goodness.
Hi to Zahra & all your colleagues,
I just read about you in the Guardian report of their journalism award, where the work of Rukhshana was rightly praised. This message is just to say that your courage & determination are awe- inspiring. Because of you, I will try even harder to use my time mindfully & never take my freedom for granted. Wherever we are, we must not stop working, hoping & believing in a better future.
With love to each of you & so much respect for everything you are doing,
With you in spirit you amazing people. I work with refugees in Barnsley jus tone day a week teaching English
. They are wonderful people. We are presently housing 7 Afghan families who we are welcoming into the county of Yorkshire.
Please ask if there is anything that we can do to help over here in England.
I will light a candle to you all this christmas.
What you do is extremely important and I admire your bravery and dedication in doing this work. For the first time I am seeing that Afghan women are running an important and women specific news with high standard of journalism and reporting and I very proud of you.
All power to you and your team.