LAnchors from major Afghan television channels went on the air Sunday (22 May) wearing face coverings, a day after defying a Taliban order to conceal their appearance and submit to Islam’s austere vision of band. 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, 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.
But the female journalists opted out of the order on Saturday, going live without covering their faces. Before turning around. On Sunday, they wore the burqa leaving only their eyes visible to present the newspapers on the TOLOnews, Ariana Television, Shamshad TV and 1TV channels.
Dismissals in the event of non-compliance with the new dress code
“We resisted and were against the wearing” of the full veil, assured Agence France-Presse Sonia Niazi, a presenter of TOLOnews. “But TOLOnews was pressured, [les talibans] said that any presenter who appeared on screen without a face covering should be given another job,” she said.
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 commented to Agence France-Presse.
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.