Since their return to power last year, the Taliban have imposed a series of restrictions on civil society, many of which are aimed at subjugating women to their austere conception of Islam.
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 burqa, a full-face veil with a fabric grid at eye level.
Previously, only a scarf covering the hair was enough.
Afghanistan’s dreaded Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice had ordered female TV presenters to comply by Saturday.
The female journalists had initially chosen not to comply with this order, going on the air live without hiding their faces.
Before turning around. On Sunday, female presenters wore full veils, leaving only their eyes and foreheads visible, to present the news on TOLOnews, Ariana Television, Shamshad TV and 1TV.
– “Forced and forced” –
“We resisted and were against the wearing” of the full veil, assured AFP Sonia Niazi, a presenter from TOLOnews.
“But TOLOnews was pressured, (the Taliban) said that any presenter who appeared on screen without covering her face should be given another job,” she said.
TOLOnews director Khpolwak Sapai said the channel was “forced” to enforce the order by its staff.
“We were told: you have to do it. You have to do it. There is no other solution,” Sapai told AFP.
“I was called on the phone yesterday and told in strict terms to do this. So it is not by choice that we are doing this, but coerced and forced,” he lamented.
Mohammad Sadeq Akif Mohajir, spokesman for the Ministry of Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice, said the authorities had no intention of forcing the presenters out of their jobs.
“We are happy that the channels have correctly exercised their responsibility,” he told AFP.
– Multiplication of attacks on freedoms –
The Taliban have ordered that women working in government be fired if they fail to adhere to the new dress code.
Male employees also risk being suspended if their wives or daughters do not comply.
The Taliban regained power in August 2021 announcing a more flexible regime than during their first rigorous reign.
But they have in recent months begun to repress opposition and erode freedoms, especially for women in education, work and daily life.
They started by requiring that women wear at least a hijab, a scarf covering the head but revealing the face. Then, at the beginning of May, they imposed on them the wearing in public of a full veil, preferably the burqa, already compulsory when they were in power from 1996 to 2001.
In the twenty years since the ousting of the Taliban in 2001, many conservative rural women had continued to wear the burqa. But most Afghan women, including TV presenters, had opted for the headscarf.
Television channels have already stopped serials and soap operas featuring women, on orders from the Taliban.