All female TV presenters in Afghanistan have been ordered by the Taliban to cover their faces while in the air – with at least one presenter lashing out saying it was “erasing” women.
According to a tweet from the TOLOnews channel, the country’s largest media outlet, the “final and non-negotiable” order came from the Ministry of Virtue and Vice and the Ministry of Information and Culture.
The instruction was sent to the Moby Group, which owns TOLOnews and a number of other TV and radio networks, and the message said it was also being applied to other Afghan media.
Several female anchors and presenters posted their photos on social media showing them with their faces covered in face masks while presenting programs.
A prominent TOLO presenter, Yalda Ali, posted a video in which she donned a face mask with the caption: “A woman is being erased, by order of the Virtues and Deputy Ministry.”
The execution of the order was mixed on the Shamshad TV station, with one female presenter appearing on Thursday wearing a face mask, while another showed her face without a mask later in the day.
an unnamed Afghan local media official confirmed that his station had received the warrant and was told it was not up for discussion.
The Taliban initially appeared to be more understanding of women’s rights with no dress code for women after they regained power last August.
But in recent weeks the rulers have become stricter, confirming the worst fears of human rights activists.
In a decree earlier this month, the Taliban publicly ordered women to be covered from head to toe with clothing, with only their eyes visible, and to leave the house only if necessary.
It said male relatives would be punished for women breaking the dress code.
A decree was also issued to ban girls from going to school after sixth grade, a reversal of previous promises to provide education for girls of all ages.
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The Taliban had previously ruled from 1996-2001, where they imposed strict restrictions on women, forcing them to wear the full-coverage burqa with a mesh screen to cover the eyes.
Women were also banned from education and public life.