Taliban Imposes Ban On Airing Of Shows With Women Actors

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Taliban bans TV shows with women actors: Despite continuous claims by the Taliban in Afghanistan of not suppressing women and press freedom, a directive has been issued which dictates a ban on showing female actors on television. The directive also mandates women television journalists to wear a hijab while presenting news.

On November 21, the Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice issued new “religious” guidelines that banned television channels from showing dramas and soap operas featuring women actors, along with making hijab compulsory for women journalists presenting news on television.

The Ministry of Women was renamed and transformed to Ministries of Prayer, Guidance and the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice by the Taliban soon after they grabbed power. After this renaming, women employees of the ministry were asked to return home when they came to work. Taliban, in its previous years of power, had banned women from sectors of employment and education.

Along with this guideline, the ministry has directed the channels to not show any programme or films which insults Prophet Mohammed and are against Islamic and Afghan values.

In the statement by the Ministry’s spokesperson, Hakif Mohajir said, “These are not rules but a religious guidelines.”

It is not like the Taliban is known for its liberal mind on women rights, independent television or free press from the past. But after seizing power in Afghanistan this year, they had assured the world that their reign is going to be different. However, the outfit seems to be quickly slipping back into its old orthodox way, which will set back the empowerment of girls and women in the country by decades.

For the last two years, the Afghan television networks have grown massively in terms of independent media houses and content. After 2001, when the Taliban was toppled, many television channels and radio stations were set up across Afghanistan via private investment. This growth stopped and was staring at a stagnancy with fear when the Taliban regained power on August 15 this year.

This fear was valid considering that when the Taliban was in power between 1996 and 2001, it had banned media, television, movies and other forms of entertainment, which were seen as “immoral”.  They had one state-sponsored radio station called the Voice of Sharia, which broadcasted propaganda and Islamic programmes only. Not just the restrictions, people faced punishments if found with a television set and ownership of a video player would often lead to public lashings.

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