The Taliban ordered female news anchors to cover their faces. Male colleagues joined the protest.

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The Taliban ordered all female news anchors to cover their faces while on air, as part of broader rules that require all women in Afghanistan to cover their faces from head to toe.

It is dangerous for a woman to refuse to comply. So some male colleagues wore face coverings in protest.

“We are deeply saddened today,” Khbulwak Sabai, Afghanistan’s deputy director of ToloNews, said in a Facebook post Sunday, a day after the Taliban decree came into effect.

He shared photos of male and female employees sitting together in an office full of screens, all wearing black masks.

It’s simple work, but it can come at a high price under the Taliban. The extremist group has flogged, beaten, and arbitrarily detained journalists since it regained power across the country in August.

Taliban orders Afghan women to cover head-to-toe in public

The international community refused to officially recognize the Taliban government due to its mistreatment of women, as well as its suppression of religious minorities and political freedoms. The Taliban, citing a fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law, banned women from traveling without a guardian, and restricted women and girls’ access to education and work.

But as the Afghan economy continues to collapse and its humanitarian crises grow, the group’s leaders have urged international donors to re-engage and send aid, arguing that they have changed hands since they were last in power during the 1990s.

However, these messages were refuted by a decree issued on May 7 ordering women to cover head to toe in public – as was required when the Taliban last ruled – according to statment From the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan. “This decision runs counter to the numerous assurances regarding the respect and protection of human rights for all Afghans, including the rights of women and girls, that Taliban representatives have made to the international community.”

The Taliban rules through the eyes of four women in Afghanistan

The decree was not initially applied to the group of Afghan women journalists who came of age in the two decades of flourishing freedoms after the initial overthrow of the Taliban.

But the Taliban’s Ministry of Justice and Virtue said on Thursday that it would extend the scope of the ruling to include female broadcasters and broadcasters starting May 21. The ministry told Reuters that surgical masks could be considered a face covering.

On Saturday, female news anchors briefly refused to comply. But by Sunday, they were providing the news with a face covering after the Taliban ramped up pressure on media companies, ToloNews reported.

“I was called on the phone yesterday and asked in strict terms to do so,” Sabai told AFP. “Therefore, we do this not by choice but by force.”

The Taliban had previously asked women to cover their heads with headscarves while on air.

“It’s okay that we are Muslims, we wear the hijab, we hide our hair, but it is very difficult for a broadcaster to cover his face for two or three hours straight and talk like that,” said Farida Seyal, presenter at ToloNews. BBC.

“They want to remove women from social and political life,” she added.

Pictures of Afghan journalists wearing masks, both male and female, circulated online under the English-language hashtag #freeherface.

“The law grossly violates women’s rights to freedom of expression, as well as personal independence and religious belief,” New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Monday.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai told CNN Friday that female television presenters should refuse to comply with the rule, as it “is not an Afghan tradition.”

Since the Taliban seized power, some 230 media outlets have closed and more than 6,400 journalists have lost their jobs, according to a December survey by Reporters Without Borders and the Afghan Independent Journalists Association. Women journalists were the hardest hit, with 4 out of 5 working in the field.

US in ‘Dialogue’ on Gender Rights with Amir Khan Mottaki, Foreign Minister of the Taliban-led Government, and US Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West He said in a Saturday tweet.

West said he and Rina Amiri, the US special envoy for Afghan women and girls and human rights, spoke to Mottaki on Saturday and “reported unified international relations.” [international] Opposing ongoing and expanding restrictions on the rights and role of women and girls in society.

Washington withdrew the last of its troops from Afghanistan on the third of August. 30, two weeks after the Taliban took control of Kabul.

“Believe me, we’ve lost our way,” Benazir Bektas, a 26-year-old local TV presenter in Kabul, told the Washington Post after the May 7 announcement.

She said the Taliban “are busy with very small issues, and there are a lot of other things that need to be done for the sake of the country.” “They should make provisions to reduce poverty and help people find jobs.”

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