An Afghan journalist and political advisor, who was vocal about women’s rights in the country, has been gunned down in broad daylight, just days after saying she believed her life was in danger.
Mena Mangal was shot dead on Saturday morning in a public place while she was on her way to work in the capital city of Kabul.
Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said one or possibly more assailants had escaped the scene but no one has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack and police say it is not yet clear whether the murder was a terror attack or an attack from someone Ms Mangal knew.
Women’s rights activists have expressed grief and anger that Ms Mangal was not better protected by authorities despite making her fears clear.
“This woman had already shared that her life was in danger. Why did nothing happen? We need answers,” Wazhma Frogh, an Afghan human rights lawyer and women’s rights campaigner said in a post on Twitter. Frogh said Ms Mangal had recently posted on Facebook that she feared for her life and was receiving threats.
“Why is it so easy in this society [for men] to keep killing women they disagree with?”
Officials have said a special police force will now investigate.
Ms Mangal was a highly regarded former journalist who had worked at Tolo TV, the largest private broadcaster in Afghanistan, as well as Shamshad and Lemar television stations. She had also recently become a cultural adviser to the lower chamber of Afghanistan’s national parliament.
On top of her career as a journalist, Ms Mangal was a passionate advocate of women’s rights, speaking out for women’s right to an education and to work.
“Can’t stop my tears at the loss of this beautiful soul. She had a loud voice and actively raising voice for her people,” Frogh said.
Reporters without Borders has previously said 2018 was the deadliest year for journalists since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, when 15 journalists and media workers were killed.
Amnesty International has ranked Afghanistan as the worst place in the world to be a woman. Women can be attacked because they go to school or to work. The country also has high levels of rape and domestic violence, as well as physical and sexual abuse by state forces, forced and child marriage and honour killings.
Afghanistan has seen a number of assassinations of women in public positions over the past two decades of war, including policewomen, politicians, educators, students and journalists.
Some have been so-called honour killings carried out by relatives or community members. Other women have been murdered by insurgents who object to women having a role in public life or speaking about women’s rights. The Taliban, which regularly carries out attacks in Kabul, is notorious for human rights abuses, including against women.
In 2012 Malala Yousafzai was famously shot in the head, aged just 15, by the Taliban in Pakistan because she spoke out about girls’ right to be educated.
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