KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan Taliban rulers have ordered all female TV hosts to cover their faces in the air, the country’s largest media outlet said Thursday.
The order came in a statement from the Taliban Virtue and Vice Ministry in charge of enforcing the group’s statements, as well as from the Ministry of Information and Culture, the TOLOnews channel. said on Twitter† The statement called the order “final and non-negotiable,” the station said.
The statement was sent to the Moby Group, which owns TOLOnews and several other TV and radio networks, and the tweet said it was also being applied to other Afghan media outlets.
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Several female anchors and presenters posted their photos on social media showing them with their faces covered in face masks while presenting programs. A prominent TOLO presenter, Yalda Ali, posted a video in which she donned a facemask with the caption: “a woman is being erased, by order of the Ministry of Virtue and Vice.”
At one station, Shamshad TV, the execution of the order was mixed: One female anchor showed up on Thursday wearing a face mask, while another went without her face later in the day.
During the first time in power from 1996-2001, the Taliban imposed overwhelming restrictions on women, forced them to wear the all-encompassing burqa and barred them from public life and education.
After retaking power in Afghanistan in August, the Taliban initially appeared to have eased their restrictions somewhat and announced no dress code for women. But in recent weeks, they have taken a sharp, hard pivot that confirmed the worst fears of human rights activists.
Earlier this month, the Taliban ordered all women in public to wear head-to-toe clothing with only their eyes visible. Under the decree, women should only be allowed to leave the home when necessary and male family members will be punished for violating women’s dress codes, starting with a subpoena and escalating to court hearings and jail time.
The Taliban leader also issued a decree banning girls from attending school after sixth grade, and reversed previous promises by Taliban officials that girls of all ages would receive an education.