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Women TV presenters defy Taliban order to cover faces on air

FILE - 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, the country’s biggest media outlet said on May 19, 2022.

FILE - 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, the country’s biggest media outlet said on May 19, 2022. | Photo Credit: AP

Women presenters on Afghanistan's leading TV channels went on air Saturday without covering their faces, defying a Taliban order that they conceal their appearance to comply with the group's austere brand of Islam.

Since surging back to power last year the Taliban have imposed a slew of restrictions on civil society, many focused on reining in the rights of women and girls.

Earlier this month Afghanistan's supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada issued a diktat for women to cover up fully in public, including their faces, ideally with the traditional burqa.

The feared Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice ordered women TV presenters to follow suit by Saturday.

Previously they had only been required to wear a headscarf.

But broadcasters TOLOnews, Shamshad TV and 1TV all aired live programmes Saturday with women presenters' faces visible.

"Our female colleagues are concerned that if they cover their faces, the next thing they will be told is to stop working," said Shamshad TV head of news Abid Ehsas.

"This is the reason they have not observed the order so far," he told AFP, adding the channel had requested further discussions with the Taliban on the issue.

Taliban orders such as this have caused many female journalists to leave Afghanistan since the hardline Islamists stormed back to power, a woman presenter said.

"Their latest order has broken the hearts of women presenters and many now think they have no future in this country," she said, requesting not to be named.

"I'm thinking of leaving the country. Decrees like this will force many professionals to leave."


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Printable version | May 22, 2022 8:33:24 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/women-tv-presenters-defy-taliban-order-to-cover-faces-on-air/article65443522.ece