Taliban Set New Media Guidelines, Ban Shows With Actresses

The Taliban administration has launched a series of restrictions on the Afghan media, including a ban on television dramas that featured female actors and ordering news anchors to wear “Islamic hijab.”

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue set nine rules this week, a Taliban administration spokesman said Tuesday, largely focused on banning any media that contravenes “Islamic or Afghan values.”

Some edicts were specifically directed at women, a move that is likely to raise concern among the international community.

“Those dramas … or shows in which women have acted should not be broadcast,” the rules said, adding that female journalists on air must wear “Islamic hijab” without defining what that means.

Although most women in Afghanistan wear headscarves in public, statements by the Taliban that women should wear “Islamic hijab” have often concerned women’s rights activists in the past who say that the The term is vague and could be interpreted conservatively.

Women protest outside Arg’s presidential office in Kabul, Afghanistan. (credit: AAMAJ NEWS AGENCY / via REUTERS)

The rules drew criticism from international human rights regulator Human Rights Watch (HRW), which said press freedom was deteriorating in the country.

“The disappearance of any space for dissent and the worsening of restrictions on women in the media and the arts is devastating,” Patricia Gossman, HRW associate director for Asia, said in a statement.

Although Taliban officials have tried to publicly assure women and the international community that women’s rights will be protected since they took over Afghanistan on August 15, many defenders and women have remained skeptical.

During the previous Taliban rule, strict restrictions were placed on women’s ability to leave home, unless accompanied by a male relative or to receive education.


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