The presenters of the main Afghan television channels went on the air on Saturday May 21 without covering their faces. They thus defied the order of the Taliban to conceal their appearance and thus submit to the austere vision of Islam of the group. The female journalists from the TOLOnews, Shamshad TV and 1TV channels all went on the air, live, without concealing their faces. “Our colleagues fear that if they cover their faces, the next thing they will be told is to stop working”, explained Abid Ehsas, chief information officer of Shamshad TV. Mohammad Sadeq Akif Mohajir, spokesperson for the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, warned that the women were violating the directive. “If they don’t comply, we will talk to those responsible”he told AFP.
Since returning to power last year, the Taliban have imposed a series of insidious restrictions on civil society, many of which are aimed at limiting women’s rights. Earlier this month, the Taliban’s supreme leader issued an order that women must cover themselves fully in public, including the face, ideally with the traditional burqa. Previously, only a scarf covering the hair was enough. The Ministry for Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice had ordered TV presenters to comply by Saturday.