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Afghanistani actresses fear for their lives

6 September 2012

The murder of one actress and the injuring of two more in a street attack in Kabul has left all Afghanistani actresses in fear for their lives according to prominent actress Sahar Parniyan (pictured left).

Kabul has reported that Benafsha, a 22 year old TV actress, was killed in west of Kabul on Monday 20 August and fellow actresses Areza and Tamana were injured. Following the attack Ms Parniyan, who appeared in Afghan drama serials and TV shows with Benafsha, was also threatened with death. The attack came after Benafasha had appeared in a show on Imroz TV. It has been reported that the part she played was considered against Islamic values and moralities.

According to Kabul sources, police are playing down the Islamic angle, claiming that the attack was do to with personal enmity and not related to Benafsha's work on television. But Ms Parniyan says she is now in such fear for her life that she has changed her address and does not dare to leave her home. She told Khaama Press that after Benafasha's murder she was also threatened with murder over the phone and told she was the next victim. Her call the office of Chief of Kabul Police was treated with with "neglect and disinterest" she says.

Ms Parniyan is well known for her roles in the Afghan drama serial Behsht-e-Khamosh and comedy series Wezarat Khana."The threats were in calls at midnight, or 2am when I was deep asleep, using very bad words and repeating 'you will be next for assassination'," she  told the Guardian."I cannot continue my life as an actress in Afghanistan, although I love my job. The Taliban are against women, but so are other groups ... Afghanistan is not made for women, whether actresses or not."

Equity's International Committee for Artists' Freedom is to take up the case and will offer what support they can to Sahar Parniyan and other Afghan actresses. Watch this web site for news about campaigning activities.

Equity General Secretary has written to the Afghanistan Ambassador to the United Kingdom in protest: "I am writing to you on behalf of Equity, the UK based trade union for actors and other entertainment professionals. I have been informed by the International Committee for Artists' freedom, a grouping within our union which leads on issues to do with persecution of artists and on freedom of expression campaigns, that there have been reports of attacks on female actors in Afghanistan. Today's Guardian newspaper focuses on one such attack on sisters Areza and Tamana, and their friend Benafsha, following their appearance on a TV programme. Local police and prosecutors appear to suggest that the assault and subsequent charges brought against these women was prompted by their work and living arrangements.

"I would seek your assurances that the three women concerned will not be punished and will be properly recognised as members of the artistic community and that further, law enforcement officers will receive instruction to respect and acknowledge the right of women to earn a living through the acting profession."


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