June 28, 2017
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Afghanistan's first women's magazine talks about taboo topics

Kabul, May 25 (efe-epa).- In a country where news is dominated by war and violence, a group of young, female university students are bringing out the country's first magazine for women.

The Gellara magazine, that covers a wide range of topics such as lifestyle, fashion, beauty, health and positive stories concerning women, printed 2,000 copies of its first edition a week ago.

"Over the past 15 years, the media has mostly focused on war news and violence against women and they never thought that in post-war Afghanistan women might also want to read about fashion, style and modern life," the magazine's chief editor Fatana Hassanzada, 23, told EFE.

"It is good to have positive news, a beautiful picture on the cover of the magazine to offer some relaxation to the readers," she said.

The first issue, printed in full color, published articles on issues that are rarely covered by the Afghan media, including those on breast cancer, love-life and fashion.

The edition also includes content on women celebrities, models posing in clothes that showed off their legs and necklines.

The editors fear this might not go down well with the conservative Afghan society, who are more used to stories of women as victims and fearing reprisal have decided to keep their address and contact details under wraps.

Hassanzada said that after the first issue was published, religious extremists attacked the magazine on social media, and threatened the editor over the telephone for "writing against religion."

"They have grown up in a closed environment and have never seen such pictures on the cover page of a magazine, they don't like this and this is why they are against us," she said.

"Extremists use women and women in hijab (a cloth covering the entire head except the face) to attack broadminded people," Hassanzada said.

The other challenge for the sustainability of the magazine is adequate finances.

The first edition was possible owing to voluntary work by students and journalists, from across the country and from other parts of the world.

Hassanzada hopes the revenue from sales - each copy costs $1.5 - and publicity will do the rest.

"I am fully hopeful we can continue to publish this magazine every month; we are working differently and we focus on contents which are attractive," she said.

Lima Afsheed, a 20-year-old writer for the magazine who is studying journalism, said she is proud of her work despite "serious reactions" from people.

"Women must work to change their life, men will not change their lives, only a woman can feel the pain of a woman," she said.

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