Who is Beheshta Arghand: The woman journalist who came to global notice for her momentous television interview with a Taliban spokesperson after the Islamist group’s takeover in Afghanistan earlier this month has reportedly fled the country. Her escape comes amid hurried evacuations from Afghanistan apprehending an extremist rule that compromises on women’s safety, individual choice and citizen freedoms.
Two days after the Taliban took over Kabul on August 15, sealing the seizure of power, Beheshta Arghand went on air with a Taliban spokesperson from the TOLO channel newsroom. It was historic, since never before that had a leader from the fundamentalist group, known for its misogynistic principles, faced a female journalist on television.
Seated only a little distance away from Mawlawi Abdulhaq Hemad, Arghand shot questions at him with extraordinary bravado.
Hers was one of the faces that emerged as a symbol of journalistic resistance, that is striving to persist despite the fear of a media gag, and an image of hope for working women who hoped to return to offices even as curbs on their mobility tightened.
CNN now reports Arghand, like so many people in her country, left in fear of the Taliban.
Why You Should Know Who Is Beheshta Arghand
The retraction of US troops from Afghanistan in the past weeks gave free passage to the Taliban to replace Ashraf Ghani’s government after most of its leaders fled. Though the terror outfit, through spokespersons and press conferences, has assured Afghans, especially women, of rights, suspicion runs deep owing to their harsh regime the last time around between 1996-2001. More here.
On-ground reports have surfaced of the Taliban disallowing women in places like Kabul, Kandahar and Herat to continue jobs. Shabnam Dawran and Khadija Amin are two Afghan journalists who claimed to have faced such resistance. Read journalist Maryam Nabavi’s first-hand account from Afghanistan written for SheThePeople.
For 24-year-old Arghand who stepped into the media scene in Afghanistan after completing her education from Kabul University, becoming a journalist had always been on the cards for her – a girlhood aspiration.
She had been working with TOLO News, Afghanistan’s first round-the-clock channel and one that has been at the forefront of reporting despite the Taliban scare in the recent past, only for over a month. Her now-famous Taliban interview she did, she said, “for Afghan women.”
“I told myself, ‘One of us must start’… If we stay in our houses or don’t go to our offices, they will say the ladies don’t want to work,” Arghand told CNN.
The Taliban have advised women to restrict themselves to working from home for the time being and stay in since their fighters are “not trained” to respect them. They can return to work once “women related procedures” are in place.