An Afghan journalism student has been sentenced to death for downloading a report on women’s rights. What a fabulous democracy we’ve brought the Afghan people.
The fate of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh has led to domestic and international protests, and deepening concern about erosion of civil liberties in Afghanistan. He was accused of blasphemy after he downloaded a report from a Farsi website which stated that Muslim fundamentalists who claimed the Koran justified the oppression of women had misrepresented the views of the prophet Mohamed.
Mr Kambaksh, 23, distributed the tract to fellow students and teachers at Balkh University with the aim, he said, of provoking a debate on the matter. But a complaint was made against him and he was arrested, tried by religious judges without – say his friends and family – being allowed legal representation and sentenced to death.
The Independent has a petition you can sign here. It’s a petition to the UK foreign office, but anyone can sign it, and non-UK pressure can make a difference.
I first learned of the organization, Women in Media and News, this morning through The Huffington Post. Then, within an hour, an email mentioned their blog, WIMN Voices. Stranger still, the email was forwarding a letter in which the reference to the blog was quite possibly accidental, the product of someone’s forgetting to change all the entries in a form letter.
So, putting aside the unphilosophical sense of receiving a HINT, I still think it’s worth drawing our readers attention to WIMN. Their mission:
WIMN works to increase women’s presence in the public debate, emphasizing those who are least often heard, including women of color, low-income women, lesbians, youth and older women.
WIMN analyzes representations of women in media; trains women’s and social justice groups to hold media outlets accountable to the public interest; advocates for policy reform and structural change; and works with journalists to broaden the quantity and diversity of women’s voices appearing in the media.
WIMN promotes equity for women as subjects, sources and producers because accurate, diverse news and entertainment media are essential to a vibrant democracy and an informed public.
They provide classes, based on a sliding scale of fees (if I’ve read them correctly), to train women to become more visible and more capable presences in the media. They also help college groups.
There’s a lot to the site worth looking at, and don’t miss the blog!