'Women being erased': TV presenters protest against harsh new Taliban rule

·3-min read

Female presenters in Afghanistan are now being asked to cover their faces while on air, just days after the Taliban ordered women to cover their faces while in public.

Akif Mahajar, spokesman for the Taliban's Ministry of Vice and Virtue told Reuters media officials met with the Taliban and they accepted the advice "very happily".

While he framed the move as advice, Mahajar added that May 21 was the day presenters had to start abiding by the new requirement.

A medical face mask would be acceptable for female presenters to wear, he said.

Basira Joya, 20, presenter of the news program sits during recording at the Zan TV station (women's TV) in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 30, 2017.
Afghanistan's Taliban rulers ordered all female presenters on TV channels to cover their faces on air. Source: AP, file

He did not say if there would be consequences for not following the "advice", Reuters reported.

Some news channels in Afghanistan have already started implementing the new rule and one anonymous television employee told Reuters Taliban officials visited their office on Wednesday.

"Today (Thursday) the production department wore masks but the news office continued as usual," the employee said.

While media officials were allegedly fine with the new advice some journalists were not.

“A woman being erased, on orders from the virtue and vice ministry," Tolo presenter Yalda Ali said on social media, according to The Guardian, while sharing a video of herself covering her face as a protest of sorts.

On Twitter, ToloNews said representatives from the Taliban called the order "a final verdict" and said it was "not up for discussion".

Women ordered to cover up when leaving the home

The move comes days after authorities ordered women to cover their faces in public, a return to a policy of the Taliban's past hardline rule and an escalation of restrictions that are causing anger at home and abroad.

Many women in Afghanistan wear a headscarf for religious reasons, however, many in urban areas like Kabul do not cover their faces.

Between 1996 and 2001, when the Taliban was last in control, women were obligated to wear a burqa.

After the Taliban seized control last year, there were concerns life for Afghan women would return to as they were when the Taliban was last in power.

Ordering female presenters to cover their faces is just the latest decree the Taliban has enforced that directly impacts women.

Earlier this month, all Afghan women were ordered to wear head-to-toe clothing while out in public.

On May 7, the Taliban ordered all Afghan women to wear head-to-toe clothing in public. Source: AP
On May 7, the Taliban ordered all Afghan women to wear head-to-toe clothing in public. Source: AP

Women were also told they should only leave home when necessary and male relatives would be punished for dress code violations.

However, not all of the Taliban's repressive edicts have been implemented.

Earlier this year the Taliban forbade women to travel alone. There was opposition to the rule and it has been silently ignored, the Associated Press reported.

After the Taliban fell in 2001, Afghan women were able to pursue work and education, endeavours that were previously forbidden.

Despite promising things would be different, girls aged over 13 are not allowed back to schools or colleges.

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