According to Afghanistan’s largest media station, the Taliban have ordered all female TV presenters to conceal their faces on television.
The order came from the Taliban’s Virtue and Vice Ministry, which is in charge of executing the group’s orders, as well as the Information and Culture Ministry, according to a tweet from the media channel. The directive was described as “final and non-negotiable” in the statement, according to the broadcaster.
The message was given to the Moby Group, which owns television and radio stations, and it was also applied to other Afghan media, according to the tweet.
An Afghan local media official acknowledged that his station had received the instruction, but that it was not subject to debate. According to him, the station has no other choice. He agreed to speak on the condition that he and his station remain anonymous for fear of causing complications with the authorities.
Several female broadcasters and presenters took to social media to share photographs of themselves wearing face masks while delivering shows. Yalda Ali, a well-known TOLO host, tweeted a video of herself wearing a face mask with the description “a lady being erased, under instructions from the Virtue and Vice Ministry.”
On one station, the directive was implemented differently: one woman anchor wore a face mask on Thursday, while another did not, revealing her face later that day.
During the Taliban’s first term in office, from 1996 to 2001, they placed severe restrictions on women, including making them to wear the all-encompassing burqa, which even covered their eyes with a mesh, and prohibiting them from participating in public life and receiving an education.
The Taliban first appeared to have softened its restrictions after retaking control in Afghanistan in August, establishing no clothing code for women. However, in recent weeks, they have made a sudden, hard-line shift, confirming rights groups’ worst worries.
The Taliban ordered all women in public to wear head-to-toe clothes with only their eyes showing earlier this month. The edict said that women should only leave the house when absolutely necessary, and that male relatives would be punished for violating the dress code, beginning with a summons and progressing to court hearings and jail time.
In addition, the Taliban commander issued a directive prohibiting girls from attending school after sixth grade, contradicting prior Taliban assurances that girls of all ages would be permitted to attend school.