Women TV presenters in Afghanistan defy Taliban order to cover faces on air
Women presenters on Afghanistan's leading TV channels yesterday went on air without covering their faces, defying a Taliban order that they conceal their appearance to comply with the group's austere brand of Islam.
Since surging back to power last year the Taliban have imposed a slew of restrictions on civil society, many focused on reining in the rights of women and girls. Earlier this month Afghanistan's supreme leader issued a diktat for women to cover up fully in public, including their faces, ideally with the traditional burqa.
The feared Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice ordered women TV presenters to follow suit by yesterday. Previously they had only been required to wear a headscarf. However, broadcasters TOLOnews, Shamshad TV and 1TV all aired live programmes with women presenters' faces on show.
"Our female colleagues are concerned that if they cover their faces, the next thing they will be told is to stop working," said Shamshad TV head of news Abid Ehsas.
Mohammad Sadeq Akif Mohajir, spokesman for the vice ministry, said the women were violating the Taliban directive.
The Taliban have demanded that women government employees be fired if they fail to follow the new dress code. Men working in government also risk suspension if their wives or daughters fail to comply. Television channels have already stopped showing dramas and soap operas featuring women, following orders from Taliban authorities.