Afghan Taliban orders TV presenters to cover their faces

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders have ordered all female TV presenters to wear face coverings on air, the country’s biggest news outlet said Thursday.

The order came in a statement from the Taliban’s Ministry of Virtue and Vice, responsible for enforcing the group’s decisions, as well as the Ministry of Information and Culture, the TOLOnews channel said on Twitter. The statement called the order “final and non-negotiable,” the channel said.

The statement was sent to the Moby Group, which owns TOLOnews and several other television and radio networks, and the tweet said it was also applied to other Afghan media.

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Several presenters and presenters have posted their photos on social media showing them with their faces covered in face masks during presentation programs. Prominent TOLO presenter Yalda Ali posted a video of herself putting on a face mask with a caption: ‘woman being erased, by order of the Ministry of Virtue and Vice’ .

On one station, Shamshad TV, implementation of the order has been mixed: One presenter appeared with a face mask on Thursday, while another later in the day went without, showing her face.

During the Taliban’s first period in power, from 1996 to 2001, they imposed crushing restrictions on women, forcing them to wear the general burqa and banning them from public life and education.

After regaining power in Afghanistan in August, the Taliban initially appeared to have eased their restrictions somewhat, announcing no dress code for women. But in recent weeks they have taken a sharp and uncompromising turn that has confirmed the worst fears of rights activists.

Earlier this month, the Taliban ordered all women in public to wear head-to-toe clothing that left only their eyes visible. The decree stated that women should only leave the house when necessary and that male relatives would be subject to punishment for violations of the women’s dress code, starting with a summons and continuing through court hearings and prison sentences.

The Taliban leader also issued an edict banning girls from school after sixth grade, reversing previous promises by Taliban officials that girls of all ages would be entitled to an education.

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