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Afghan Women’s Secret Facebook


Afghanistan -- (Illustrative) A woman browses Facebook in Kabul. July 2012.

This month on Heard It From Her, we spoke with Malali Bashir, a journalist with RFE/RL’s Afghan Service. Named a Twitter Power User at the 2015 Afghan Social Media Summit, Malali is one of the most visible journalists on Afghan social media, but she needed a better way to engage with Afghan women online, where an opinion expressed by a woman can result in a barrage of bullying, harassment, or even blackmail.

-Malali Bashir, correspondent with RFE/RL's Afghan Service.
-Malali Bashir, correspondent with RFE/RL's Afghan Service.

So she created a private Facebook group for approved members called “Bandar,” or “The Get Together,” where Afghan women have been discussing everything from access to education to street harassment. Their frank discussions regularly make it out of the group and into traditional media when journalist group members report them, and people in rural Afghanistan without access to the Internet can join the conversation. But there has also been a backlash in traditional media, with some men denouncing the group as “unwomanly.”

--Emily Thompson

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