TV presenter Hatereh Ahmadi covers her face as she reads the news on TOLO NEWS in Kabul due to restrictions imposed by the Taliban. (Right) News anchor Hamed Bahram wears a mask in protest.
PAKISTAN: Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have begun enforcing an order requiring all female TV news anchors in the country to cover their faces while on-air. The move is part of a hard-line shift drawing condemnation from rights activists.
After the order was announced on Thursday, only a handful of news outlets complied. But on Sunday, most female anchors were seen with their faces covered after the Taliban’s Vice and Virtue Ministry began enforcing the decree.
The Information and Culture Ministry previously announced that the policy was “final and non-negotiable”.
“It is just an outside culture imposed on us forcing us to wear a mask and that can create a problem for us while presenting our programmes,” said Sonia Niazi, a TV anchor with TOLOnews. In an act of solidarity with female colleagues, the channel’s male personnel covered their faces with masks, including the main evening newsreader.
A local media official confirmed his station had received the order last week but on Sunday it was forced to implement it after being told it was not up for discussion. He spoke on condition he and his station remain anonymous for fear of retribution from Taliban authorities.
Earlier this month, the Taliban ordered all women in public to wear head-to-toe clothing that leaves only their eyes visible.