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Roundtable discussion on Analyzing Street Harassment

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28 September 2017
Community and media center Balkh (Maulana Peace House) organized its monthly meeting to discuss the phenomenon of street harassment of women in Balkh and Mazar-e-Sharif.  
Twenty two activists, both female and male, including representatives of civil society organizations, university professors, women rights advocates, youth, university students and Balkh Police spokesperson participated in the discourse.  
The monthly media meeting is a regular initiative of Mediothek Afghanistan providing a unique opportunity for representatives of local media organizations, experts and government officials to come together and discuss pressing social, media related and political issues and gauge the possible role of media in these topics.
Street harassment is a serious social problem in big cities across Afghanistan and it is expanding in Mazar-e-Sharif city and across Balkh province. Women are harassed on the streets, on the markets and shopping malls and the ramifications are deep for the women. Men ridding on motorbike snatched belongings from women while are the helpless.  
Professor Abass Naqawit believes that street harassment is a social-cultural problem and it can only be overcome through awareness and education and working with communities, schools and mosques.
“in my views the best way forward in dealing with issue of street harassment is to work closely with families,” says Haider Rahyab, a university student “besides working with educational institutional.”
Abdul Qader Muzbah, managing director of a social institute, believes that the main factor of rising street harassment is the weaknesses of police forces, he stressed that police must do more to protect women against street harassment.
Ms. Mozgdah Latifi has experienced street harassment first hand; she says that her phone was snatched from her hand by two young men ridding on a motorbike, she went to file a complaint with police department, but police simply told her that she must find and introduce the perpetrator to the police instead of doing anything to help her.
Provincial police spokesperson acknowledged the weakness of police forces in dealing with the problem of street harassment of women, including phone-snatching and Purse-snatching, by men ridding on motorbikes. Police spokesperson added that police forces don’t have the ability to fight the problem, suggesting that the police need the support of the communities to work together to fight the problem.  
Participants of the event suggest that a joint commission of civil society organizations, the provincial council and other social and civil organizations should be established in Mazar-e-Sharif as tool to combat street harassment of women working with provincial police department, the provincial administration and other local organization working on the issue.
Mediothek Afghanistan is committed to working with grassroots level social and civil movements to advance social awareness through open discourse and dialogues about pressing issues such as the issue of street harassment of women, women rights and women political participation and so on…