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Taliban Warns of Potential Complete Ban on Women’s Work in Media

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – The Taliban authorities warn female journalists and media workers of a potential complete ban on their work in media unless they adhere to the regime’s dress code, which requires them to fully cover their faces.

In a press release on Wednesday, February 28, the Afghanistan Journalist Center (AFJC) reported that Mohammad Khalid Hanafi, the Taliban Minister of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, issued the warning during a meeting with media representatives in Kabul on Tuesday, February 27.

According to the statement, Abdul Ghaffar Farooq, the spokesperson of the ministry, recommended that the media display images of women wearing black attire and veils, with their faces mostly covered, leaving only their eyes visible.

He also warned the media against conducting interviews with Afghan women who do not adhere to the hijab or fully cover their faces.

AFJC says that the Taliban authorities have warned that failure to comply with these guidelines may lead to a potential prohibition of women working in the media by the regime’s Kandahar-based supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada.

The media watchdog has expressed concern over the state of media in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. It underscored the potential repercussions of banning women from working in the media, given the significant restrictions they already face in their work.

Since their takeover of Afghanistan, the Taliban has imposed increasing restrictions on journalists and media workers in the country, issuing multiple directives that severely limit freedom of the press.

Over the past more than two years, nearly half of Afghanistan’s previously vibrant media landscape has either been forced to shut down or relocate their offices abroad due to the Taliban’s strict restrictions and continued pressure. 

survey by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) counted 547 media outlets operating in the country in early 2021, saying over 50% of media outlets have closed down and many international news broadcasts have been banned.

Women journalists have faced further restrictions. The Taliban banned nearly all women from the workforce, leading to a financial crisis for families in which women were the primary breadwinners.

The ruling regime in Afghanistan enforce gender-based segregation in workplaces and recently prohibit women’s voices and phone calls from being broadcast in certain provinces.

Last week, AFJC reported that Taliban authorities in southern Kandahar province have prohibited photography and filming in all meetings involving their local officials.

Days later, a local media outlet reported that Taliban authorities instructed media workers in Afghanistan to refrain from shaving their beards and photography.

AFJC says that the Taliban’s media restrictions have significantly undermined freedom of expression, leading to increased self-censorship and a significant reduction in media access to essential information.

The media watchdog urges the Taliban authorities to revoke the media guidelines and grant journalists and media outlets the freedom to exercise their rights as outlined in the Afghanistan media law.