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Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders have begun enforcing an order requiring all female TV news anchors in the country to cover their faces while on air

ISLAMABAD — Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders began enforcing an order on Sunday requiring all female TV news anchors in the country to wear face coverings while on air. The move is part of a hardline shift that is drawing condemnation from rights activists.

After the order was announced on Thursday, only a handful of outlets complied. But on Sunday most of the female anchors were seen with their faces covered after the Taliban’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue began enforcing the decree.

The Ministry of Information and Culture previously announced that the policy was “final and non-negotiable”.

“It’s just an external culture that is imposed on us, forcing us to wear a mask and this can create a problem for us when presenting our programs,” said Sonia Niazi, TV presenter at TOLOnews.

A local media official confirmed his station received the order last week, but on Sunday was forced to implement it after being told it was not up for discussion. He spoke on the condition that he and his station remain anonymous for fear of reprisals from Taliban authorities.

During the Taliban’s last term in Afghanistan, from 1996 to 2001, they imposed crushing restrictions on women, forcing them to wear the burqa and banning them from public life. and education.

After regaining power in August, the Taliban initially appeared to have eased their restrictions somewhat, announcing no dress code for women. But in recent weeks they have made a sharp and intransigent turn that has confirmed the worst fears of rights activists and further complicated the Taliban’s relationship with an already wary international community.

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.

Taliban leaders have also banned girls from going to school after sixth grade, reversing previous promises by Taliban officials that girls of all ages would have the right to an education.

ABC News

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