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Taliban Bans Women From Acting on TV, Orders Journalists to Wear Headscarves

The new set of guidelines has been issued by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, sparking fear of an irreversible return to the old order of things.

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New Delhi: The Taliban has banned women from appearing on television dramas and has ordered women journalists and presenters to wear headscarves, BBC has reported.

In a new set of ‘religious guidelines’ issued by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Afghan television channels have been instructed not to broadcast dramas and soap operas featuring women.

Films considered to be “against the principles of Sharia” and “foreign films promoting foreign cultural values” have also been banned.  

The ministry has forbidden comedy and entertainment shows that insult religion or may be considered offensive to Afghans. 

”These are not rules but a ‘religious guideline’,” ministry spokesman Hakif Mohajir told AFP.

After the Taliban took control of Afghanistan at the time of the departure of the US and its allied forces, pressure from global watchers had compelled the Taliban to promise a more moderate rule this time. 

However, many have since had reason to fear a return to the old norm and harsh restrictions are being imposed gradually, impeding freedom of speech and expression.

Also read: How Work Has Got Harder for Afghan Journalists After Taliban Takeover

Despite Taliban promises to allow them to keep working and to respect press freedom, multiple accounts of harassment and intimidation of female journalists were reported from all over the country. According to a survey by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), most women employees of media organisations stopped working after the Taliban takeover.

Municipal employees who were women were told to stay at home by the mayor of Kabul, the capital city, unless their jobs could not be filled by a man.

The country’s junior national football team recently arrived in the UK before seeking asylum in Pakistan. Their departure is part of a wider exodus of Afghan sports and cultural stars amid fears of a crackdown on women’s rights.

The Taliban claim that their restrictions on women working and girls studying are “temporary” and only in place to ensure all workplaces and learning environments are “safe” for them.

Many, however, fear that the Taliban might take Afghanistan to their order of 20 years ago, when television, movies and all other forms of entertainment were deemed immoral, and thus banned.