Afghan TV anchors forced to wear face-covering after Taliban order

·2 min read
Afghan TV anchors forced to wear face-covering after Taliban order

Female TV news anchors are being told they must wear face coverings when presenting live on air in Afghanistan.

The Taliban said the ruling was “non-negotiable” and is now being strictly enforced by the Government.

The party overthrew the previous Afghan government in August last year and has since placed more restrictions on women, limiting their access to education and dictating how they must dress in public.

One TV news anchor, Sonia Niazi, told AFP News that she was “forced” to wear a face covering while working for TOLOnews.

She said: “We resisted and were against wearing a mask but TOLOnews was pressured and told that any female presenter who appeared on screen without covering her face must be given some other job or simply removed.

“TOLOnews was compelled and we were forced to wear it.”

The country’s Information and Culture Ministry said that the ruling was “final and non-negotiable”.

Presenter for TOLOnews, Thamina Usmani, covers her face during a live broadcast (AFP via Getty Images)
Presenter for TOLOnews, Thamina Usmani, covers her face during a live broadcast (AFP via Getty Images)

Another TOLOnews presenter, Farida Sial, told the BBC the move felt like it wanted to “erase women from social and politilcal life”.

She said: “It’s OK that we are Muslims, we are wearing hijab, we hide our hair, but it’s very difficult for a presenter to cover their face for two or three hours consecutively and talk like that.

“[The Taliban] want to erase women from social and political life,” she said.

Khpolwak Sapai, the channel’s deputy director, wrote on Facebook: “We are in a deep grief today.”

Since seizing control of the country last year, the Taliban have imposed restrictions on women, including requiring them to wear the burqa in public.

Women will be punished if they do not wear a face covering in public.

Other hardline measures have also been imposed including the Taliban assigning separate days for them to visit public parks to men, and forbiding them from taking longer distance journeys without a male guardian.

Meanwhile, some female students have still not been allowed back to school, and in some sectors such as healthcare and education, women have been told not to return to their offices.

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