ISLAMABAD (AP) — Taliban leaders in Afghanistan began enforcing an order Sunday requiring all female television news anchors in the country to cover their faces while on air. The move is part of a hardline shift that is drawing condemnation from rights activists.
After the order was announced on Thursday, only a handful of outlets complied with the order. But on Sunday most of the female anchors were seen with their faces covered after the Taliban’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue began enforcing the order.
The Ministry of Information and Culture previously announced that the policy was “final and non-negotiable”.
“It’s just an external culture, which is imposed on us, which forces us to wear a mask and which can create a problem for us when presenting our programs,” said Sonia Niazi, TV presenter at TOLOnews.
A local media official confirmed her station received the order last week, but on Sunday she was forced to implement the order and told there was no talk. He spoke on the condition that he and his station remain anonymous for fear of reprisals from Taliban authorities.
During the Taliban’s last term in Afghanistan, from 1996 to 2001, they imposed crushing restrictions on women, forcing them to wear the burqa and banning them from public life. and education.
After regaining power in August, the Taliban initially appeared to have eased their restrictions somewhat, announcing no dress code for women. But in recent weeks they have made a sharp and intransigent turn that has confirmed the worst fears of rights activists and further complicated the Taliban’s relationship with an already wary international community.
Earlier this month, the Taliban ordered all women in public to wear head-to-toe clothing that left only their eyes visible. The decree stated that women should only leave the house when necessary and that male relatives would be subject to punishment for violations of the women’s dress code, starting with a summons and continuing through court hearings and prison sentences.
Taliban leaders have also banned girls from going to school after sixth grade, reversing previous promises by Taliban officials that girls of all ages would have the right to an education.