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FATA women break social stereotype to become radio journalists

Peshawar, Wed, 01 Jul 2009 ANI

Peshawar, June 30 (ANI): With a minidisk recorder in her hand, Asma rushes around in a small Peshawar studio, trying to finish editing a radio news bulletin so that she can make it back to her home before dark.


"If I don't get the bulletin done in time for this evening's show, the station won't let me continue as a radio journalist. But if I don't get home on time, then my parents won't let me continue working either," the Dawn quoted Asma, as saying.


Asma is one of three women reporters for Radio Khyber, a Jamrud-based FM radio station, which is intended at countering the extremist, pro-jihad illegal radio stations run by hard-line clerics throughout the tribal agencies.


Supported by the FATA Secretariat, the radio station was earlier presenting just infotainment shows, but in the wake of Pakistan Army's military offensive the station decided to broadcast regular news bulletins.


In the tribal belt, where women are facing many dogmas, it is remarkable that three women have come forward to work as radio journalists.


"People in the tribal areas don't like it if their women call in to radio shows. They think it is shameful if their voices are broadcast on air because the radio goes to the public," said Tayyab, Radio Khyber's news editor.


Some of Asma's colleagues had to overcome their families' and their own reservations to pursue the career of their choice.


Quetta based Kulsoom says her parents and brother strongly disapprove of strange men hearing her voice on air.


"But I wanted to do something unique. I'm the first Pathan girl from Balochistan who has come into the media," she says


"I was scared of reporting and had heard that women face problems when they come into the field. But once I started I realised we get more respect than the men and everyone is more cooperative," adds Andaleeb, a young reporter from Landi Kotal.


However, none of the female reporters are willing to be confined to covering women's issues alone.


"Women aren't usually allowed to do this, but I want to cover the military operations underway in the agencies," Asma says. (ANI)


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