Afghan Women TV Anchors Forced to Cover Faces On-Air

Photo by Elin Tabitha on Unsplash

The Taliban rulers in Afghanistan have begun enforcing a new decree that requires all-female TV news anchors in the nation to veil their faces while on live. Only a few news channels followed the directive when it was issued on Thursday. However, after the Taliban’s Vice and Virtue Ministry began implementing the rule on Sunday, most female anchors were seen with their faces covered.

Most Muslims worldwide do not consider women covering their faces in public to be a mandatory part of the religion. As Allah (SWT) also mentioned in Surah-An-Noor: “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their chastity, and not to reveal their adornments (i.e., hair, body shape, and underclothes) except what normally appears (i.e., the face, hands, outer clothes, rings, kohl, and henna).” (24:31).

From 1996 to 2001, while the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, they put harsh restrictions on women, mandating them to wear the all-encompassing burqa and prohibiting them from public life and education. When the Taliban retook power in August, they appeared to relax some of their rules, proclaiming that there would be no clothing code for women. However, in recent weeks, they have made a dramatic shift.

The Taliban mandated all women to wear head-to-toe clothes in public earlier this month, leaving only their eyes visible. The decree said that women should only leave the house when absolutely necessary, and that male relatives would be punished for violating the dress code, beginning with a notice, and progressing to court proceedings and jail time.

“It’s OK that we are Muslims, that we wear hijab, that we hide our hair,” TOLOnews presenter Farida Sial said, “but it’s challenging for a broadcaster to cover their face for two or three hours and talk like that.” Furthermore, former Afghan parliament deputy speaker Fawzia Koofi told Al Jazeera that the latest directive had no validity. Under the guise of religion, certain Taliban members tried to enforce their own self-interpreted principles. It has no basis in Islam.

After being ordered to conceal their faces on the broadcast by Taliban officials, women television presenters on Afghanistan‘s most prominent news networks pledged to speak for their rights on Sunday. Male news anchors also wear masks on-air in solidarity with the female anchor who has been forced to cove their faces by the Taliban.