As It Happens

'Women are not protected': Former Afghan MP calls for justice after TV host shot dead

Former Afghan member of parliament Fawzia Koofi says the recent death of journalist-turned political adviser Mina Mangal is another example of the danger and oppression that women in Afghanistan face every day.

Political adviser and former TV journalist Mina Mangal was killed in broad daylight in Kabul

Mina Mangal was a prominent TV journalist in Afghanistan, and then became an adviser in the Afghan parliament. (Afghan Presidential Information Coordination Center/Twitter)
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Fawzia Koofi says the recent death of journalist-turned political adviser Mina Mangal is another example of the danger and oppression that women in Afghanistan face every day.

Mangal was a prominent TV journalist in Afghanistan, later becoming an adviser in the Afghan parliament. On Saturday, she was shot dead in broad daylight by two unknown men on a motorcycle.

Her death has prompted an outcry from women's rights advocates including Koofi, a former member of parliament and the leader of the political party Movement for Change.

Here is part of her conversation with As It Happens host Carol Off.

Ms. Koofi, what can you tell us about how Mina Mangal died?

In her case, I think her family is claiming that her ex-husband committed the murder.

No matter who committed the murder, the important point is, why should there be weapons available to everybody to kill, especially if you're in a society and a government system [in] which protection towards women is so weak?

Women are not protected systematically. Anybody can use a gun. And her case is not the only case.

Fawzia Koofi is a former member of Afghanistan's parliament, and the leader of the political party Movement for Change. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images)

She was murdered on her way to work in broad daylight. And she's in Kabul, one of the safest areas [in Afghanistan], going to work as she has a job with the parliament's cultural affairs commission. If she is that vulnerable to attack at that point, what protection is there for other women in Afghanistan?

That's the whole point. Her murder while going to the office indicates how vulnerable women of Afghanistan are, and how less protection and how less justice has been given to those who have already been killed.

We have cases like this that happen almost all over Afghanistan. No trial, no transparency, no accountability.

We don't know who killed her at this point — no one has been arrested — but her family has talked about the violence that she faced in a marriage that she ended a couple of years ago.

Her family seems to be very supportive of her. They filed a complaint alleging the domestic violence. It was referred to family violence court in Afghanistan; that was dropped. The family protested against that. Mina Mangal, meanwhile, she wrote on Facebook that she'd received threats and she feared for her life.

All of these things would indicate that she would need some protection — and that wasn't there for her, was it?

No, it was not there for her. And the sad thing is that the security officials, and those who are in power — the man leaders — they have this mentality that if women ask for their rights, if woman are vocal, if women go out to work, they are against the norms of the society, they are against the boundaries that these men set for women, so they deserve to be killed. And that's why they don't take the case as seriously.

The sad thing was that she was very young ... She was the new version of women in Afghanistan.- Fawzia Koofi

Almost every day, other women come to me with similar kinds of threats that they receive on their phones, by ... family members or colleagues, or somebody who is not happy with her work.

And the moment she refers to the courts or she refers to the police, police are the ones who actually then start abusing her, or the courts then start abusing her.

Can you tell us a bit about Mina Mangal? She was well known as a TV journalist, a TV presenter in Afghanistan before she went to work at Afghan parliament. What do you know about her?

I don't know her personally. I only know her through TV. I think she was a talented girl.

She was a TV presenter, and of course, it's not very common in Afghanistan for a woman to work on TV, on media. She was a poet, and she wanted to live her life.

It's not very common in Afghanistan that you divorce at a young age. But because she stood against the odds, you know, that's what happened to her.

The one thing that Mina Mangal seemed to have was a very supportive family, and her father told the BBC: "I have lost an intelligent and active daughter. I am asking the government why they could not protect my working daughter and I have lost her. I urged them to protect my other daughters and other women like them who come out of the home to serve our society." Is this a father who is going to see justice for the death of his daughter?

We're trying our best. As you know, we will try to mobilize my party, with other civil society activists, mobilize enough pressure on the government. I know the government has other priorities. Elections are their priority. 

But I think the government should be able to protect its citizens. They have to give them the right to survival, and if they are killed in such a way, they should be able to give justice, so that it is not only justice for her, but for other women who are following the path, for other younger generations.

And the sad thing was that she was very young. ... She was the new version of women in Afghanistan.


Written by Jonathan Ore. Q&A edited for length and clarity. Interview with Fawzia Koofi produced by Allie Jaynes.