In the west, having a TV channel is not that extraordinary. There are many journalists, reporters and students pursuing a degree within the media sector. But in Afghanistan, being a journalist is limited and possibly dangerous. So, never mind having a TV channel.
However, Zan TV has broken those limitations in many ways. Not only are they a new TV channel focusing on ‘taboo’ subjects such as drugs, feminism and contraception, it’s an ALL WOMEN station too. Yes, you read right: In Afghanistan, women are running their own TV station!
‘Till Death Do Us Part’
Contrary to the title, these women aren’t marrying themselves to the station, nor are they saying Christian oaths. However, they have that Zor (i.e. strength or push) to rally behind their channel, voicing their messages and opinion, despite death threats and the intolerant society they live in.
They are aiming to expand Zan TV in order to make it one of Afghanistan’s largest TV stations. And these loyal ladies are more than dedicated to make it happen, as a 22-year-old technician said: “Even if my life or my family is in danger, as long as I’m alive, I will work to give a voice to those voiceless Afghan women”. How does that compare to text-book girl power?
Sorry, Not Sorry!
Zan TV has covered subjects that have been totally against the norm, sometimes even a risk to their lives. As such, their work has been fighting against underage marriage, make awareness surrounding women and drug addiction, and the necessity of access to education. With more than 1 million people tuned into the channel, both within and outside of Afghanistan, the Zan TV ladies have certainly proved the dubious people wrong. Though, there remain certain people that aren’t able to accept their effort– for now at least. An Afghan street vendor once commented that “these channels bring shame to our religious leaders, political leaders and society”.
Clearly, Zan TV’s reception has been mixed. Maybe, they are biting off too much to chew? Or will they, one day, get the power and support from their people and others? I hope and pray for the latter.
Khudey pa amaan (i.e. with God’s trust – Pashto, main language used in Afghanistan).
This article was written by Zahra Rahman