Almost 60 percent of Afghanistan's journalists have lost their jobs or fled the country since the Taliban takeover a year ago, according to a survey published Friday by Reporters Without Borders.
The France-based NGO said 219 of the country's 547 media organizations had ceased operations since the Taliban took power on August 15, 2021.
Women journalists have been most impacted, with 76 percent losing their jobs.
"Journalism has been decimated during the past year in Afghanistan," RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said in a statement.
"The authorities must undertake to end the violence and harassment inflicted on media workers, and must allow them to do their job unmolested."
The survey found that only 656 women journalists were still working, the vast majority in Kabul, down from 2,756 a year ago.
Accusations of immorality were frequently used to remove them from their posts.
"The living and working conditions of women journalists in Afghanistan have always been difficult, but today we are experiencing an unprecedented situation," Kabul-based journalist Meena Habib told RSF.
"They work in conditions that are physically and mentally violent and tiring, without any protection."
Some media outlets have been forced to shut by rules against broadcasting music and other content, while others have been unable to continue without international funding.
A decree issued by Taliban supreme leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada last month warned against "defaming and criticizing government officials without proof".
It was the latest in a series of measures aimed at curbing press freedoms.
At least 80 journalists have been detained for varying periods by security forces in the past year, with three currently imprisoned, RSF said.
The NGO ranked Afghanistan at 156 out of 179 countries in its press freedom index for 2022.
FROM THE ARCHIVES