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Six Minutes to Freedom
Afghan Opposition Radio Reaches Out to Women
October 13, 2001

Article originally posted at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/monitoring/media_reports/newsid_1594000/1594256.stm

BBC Monitoring

The Afghan opposition has set up a radio station aimed at redressing the gender imbalance in the country's broadcast media.

The new station, which is based in the eastern province of Parvan, to the north of the capital Kabul, has been founded with help from the French organization Droit de Parole (Right to Speak).

The French news agency AFP said that Radio Sol (Ground Radio) was broadcasting for three hours a day on the FM waveband and was able to cover a limited range of about 30km.

Taleban defied
The policy of the new station runs counter to everything that the ruling Taleban stands for, as it employs as many women as men, has a female presenter, and broadcasts music - which the Taleban's Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice has banned from the media under its control.

In addition to some news bulletins, Radio Sol offers education programmes aimed at young people and women, and health, maternity and childcare courses.

"This station came about through a project aimed at promoting the role and the place of Afghan women," Dragica Ponorac, the chairwoman of Droit de Parole, said.

Technical limitations
Droit de Parole hopes before long to set up a powerful transmitter on a mountain-top, but at present Radio Sol has to make do with rather more primitive arrangements.

The transmitter's pylon consists of two lamp posts, one inserted inside the other, according to Jean-Pierre Grimaldi, a French technician who helped to set up the technical equipment.

Radio Sol had "a very basic studio and equipment donated by a number of sponsors, notably French public radio and television," Mr Grimaldi added.

The station eventually plans to broadcast for eight hours a day in Pashto and Dari.

US accused
The Taleban's Voice of Shariah radio has continued to broadcast from the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif, but has not been heard from Kabul since Monday.

The news bulletins from Mazar-e Sharif are devoted mainly to humdrum matters such as official visits and meetings of religious scholars.

However, a commentary broadcast by Taleban radio in Dari on Thursday lashed out at the US air strikes, saying that these were deliberately targeted at civilian areas.

"The barbaric bombardment by US aircraft on residential homes, civilian hospitals and institutions shows the USA's seditious goals," it said.

The radio accused the US of "prosecuting a war that smacks of genocide".
Radio Sol (Ground Radio)
Long-planned as ab outreach and educational tool for Afghan women the station hit the airwaves during Operation Enduring Freedom, the U.S. and coalition military intervention in October 2001. It was funded by the French media NGO Droit de Parole and supported the Northern Alliance.
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