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Zan Times Archive: Documenting violence against public women in Afghanistan

Today Zan Times has launched an archive intending to hold accountable the perpetrators of violence and murder of women in Afghanistan. With its launch, Zan Times aims to inform and raise awareness about the human rights situation in Afghanistan, specifically the systematic violence against publicly active women in Afghanistan.

Since the Taliban regained power, the murders of women and their deaths by suicide have become commonplace news in Afghanistan, but what is rarely heard is news of the arrests and punishments of those committing violence against women. Taliban policies towards women are equivalent to crimes against humanity, according to UN rights experts. But under Taliban rule, there is a special immunity for violence aimed at women. In particular, an investigation of the murders of women that are reported by the media shows that many of those who are subjected to violence have public roles in Afghan society. 

This archive, with financial support and open-source mentoring from the Centre for Information Resilience’s Afghan Witness project, is an effort to document the violence, including the arrest, disappearance, and killing of public women in Afghanistan since the Taliban regained power in August 2021. For the last six months, 10 journalists have worked on creating this archive. In doing so, Zan Times has been able to document 49 cases of violence against women. These cases include 34 arrests, one disappearance, and 14 murders of women. The crimes occurred in provinces across Afghanistan. The archive’s website was created by the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS).

About the Archive

In this archive, Zan Times seeks to document and bring to light cases of violence against politically and socially active women in Afghanistan.

To document these cases of violence, we have used two methods: 

1. Field research and interviews with families and relatives of disappeared or killed women, as well as interviews with arrested women. Some of the cases we have documented have never been reported in the media – gathering the information was only possible with the help of local journalists who bravely helped us document them.

2. Use of credible media reports

In both methods, we have used at least two independent sources.

This archive is by no means complete or comprehensive. Zan Times currently has a long list of names of women who have been arrested, disappeared, or killed. But before adding their names and information to this archive, Zan Times needs to independently confirm the details of their cases. Zan Times admits that it may never be able to compile a comprehensive and complete archive of all cases of violence against public women, as the Taliban actively suppresses information about their arrests, disappearances, and killings. 

By launching this archive, Zan Times declares its commitment to continue long-term work to document cases of violence against women in Afghanistan and asks all journalists and activists in Afghanistan to help us in verifying these cases.

We at Zan Times hope that this archive will become a powerful tool to bring justice to victims and their families and to hold accountable the perpetrators and the system that empowers them.

Freshta Ghani is the managing editor of Zan Times.