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Female-led Afghan radio resumes broadcasts after shutdown

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A female-led radio station in northeastern Afghanistan has resumed its broadcasts, after officials shut it down for a week for playing music during the holy month of Ramadan, a Taliban official and the head of the station said Friday.

Sadai Banowan, which means “women’s voice” in Dari, was launched 10 years ago in Badakhshan province and is Afghanistan’s only female-led radio station. Six of its eight staff members are women.

Moezuddin Ahmadi, the Taliban’s director for information and culture in Badakhshan, said the station was allowed to resume activities Thursday after it agreed to obey the “laws and regulations of the Islamic Emirate” — Afghanistan under the Taliban — and stop broadcasting any kind of music.

Station head Najia Sorosh said that, after the station “gave a commitment to officials at the information and culture department, they unlocked the door of the station,” which started broadcasting again.

The Afghan Journalist Safety Committee, an Afghan watchdog organization that promotes the safety of journalists and press freedom and that was involved in mediation for the station’s reopening, welcomed the resumption of broadcasts.

“Following AJSC’s advocacy efforts, Sadia Banowan radio resumed its broadcasts,” it said in a tweet.

Representatives from the Ministry of Information and Culture and the Vice and Virtue Directorate had shut down the station a week earlier.

Many journalists lost their jobs after the Taliban takeover in August 2021. Media outlets closed over a lack of funds or because staff left the country, according to the Afghan Independent Journalists Assn.

The Taliban has barred women from most forms of employment and education beyond the sixth grade, including university. There is no official ban on music. During its previous rule in the late 1990s, the Taliban barred most television, radio and newspapers in the country.

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