Afghan women oppose the new Taliban media guide | Taliban News

Afghan journalists and activists expressed concern about the new “religious guidelines” issued by the Taliban rulers, calling this another move Control form More than women.

Taliban, where Take over About 100 days ago, on Sunday, Afghanistan urged female journalists to observe the dress code and called on television stations to stop broadcasting soap operas featuring women, raising concerns about women’s rights and media freedom.

Akif Muhajir, spokesperson for the Ministry of Virtue Promotion and Crime Prevention, said, “These are not rules, but religious norms.”

However, activists worry that it may be abused to harass female journalists, many of whom have fled the country after the Taliban took over on August 15.

The Taliban are accused of violating their commitments to protect women’s rights and media freedom. The latest initiative called on women to wear headscarves when submitting reports, but did not specify which type of covering to use.

According to the organization, such restrictions and strict controls on news reporting are to safeguard the “national interest.”

‘Block media’

Zahra Nabi, a radio reporter who co-founded a women’s television channel, said that when the Taliban returned to power, she felt forced into desperation and chose to stop broadcasting on the same day.

“All the media are in their [Taliban] Control,” Nabi, who founded Baano TV in 2017, told Al Jazeera.

This network once run by 50 women symbolizes how far Afghan women have come since the Taliban first came to power in the 1990s.

Since most of the staff of the network have now left, Nabi still sticks to her job, and like many other established journalists in Afghanistan, she has to work under the radar.

“We work in a very difficult environment and even collect reports under the burqa,” Nabi said, referring to the outer garments used by some Muslim women to cover the entire body and face.

“It’s really difficult for a female journalist,” she said, citing a recent example in which she had to enter Kunduz City as a humanitarian worker instead of as a journalist.

“I didn’t show that I was a journalist. I had to arrange a safe office space with local women to work,” Nabi said.

A group of women wearing burqa crosses the road as Taliban members drive by in Kabul, Afghanistan [Jorge Silva/Reuters]

Now that Baano TV has stopped broadcasting, the 34-year-old lady said that she is trying to find other ways to present her report, perhaps through social media platforms or through foreign broadcasters.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) commented on the move on Monday that the new strict guidelines will particularly hurt women.

“The Taliban’s new media regulations and threats to journalists reflect broader efforts to suppress all criticism of Taliban rule,” said Patricia Gosman, deputy director of Asia at Human Rights Watch.

“The disappearance of any dissent space and the increasingly serious restrictions on women in the media and the arts are devastating.”

The journalist Sonia Ahmadyar, who lost her job in August, said the Taliban had been slowly “suppressing the media.”

Ahmadiyar told Al Jazeera that the Taliban restricted women from “not allowing them to be active” day after day.

She said that women were “really discouraged from appearing on television”, adding that the organization deprived them of their “freedom” and financial autonomy.

The 35-year-old called on the Taliban to allow female journalists to resume work “without harassment” as soon as possible.

“This is their most basic right because it is vital to their livelihoods, and because their absence from the media will silence all Afghan women,” she said.

‘Must obey’

Previously, the Taliban stipulated that private media could operate freely as long as they did not violate Islamic values. Within a few days after taking office, the organization had stated that the government would abide by Sharia law.

But journalists and human rights activists criticized these guidelines for being vague, saying they need to be explained.

It is not yet clear whether broadcasting or broadcasting a foreign TV series featuring female protagonists without wearing a headscarf will cause legal scrutiny.

When asked whether avoiding these guidelines would be punished by law, Muhagir of the Ministry of Virtue and Crime Prevention told Al Jazeera that citizens “have an obligation to comply with the guidelines,” but did not elaborate.

According to Heather Barr, co-director of Human Rights Watch’s women’s rights department, the Taliban’s directive is only the latest move by the organization to “erasing women from public life.”

She said the move came after the organization excluded women from senior government positions and eliminated the Ministry of Women, Women’s Sports, and the system established to deal with gender-based violence.

Almost shortly after coming to power, the Taliban also instructed high school girls Stay at home and not go to schoolHowever, girls in parts of the country have now been allowed to resume classes.

Although the vast majority of Afghan women have their heads covered, some women do not. But whether they do it or not—”The important thing is, it’s their choice,” Barr said.

Shaqaiq Hakimi, a young Afghan activist, agreed.

“God gave us… the right to decide. So this should not be caused by force, but their [women’s] My own decision,” she told Al Jazeera.

Barr said that since the guidelines do not specify what kind of headscarf women should wear, Taliban officials will feel “the right to decide what is acceptable and what is unacceptable”, which makes it easy for women to be stopped on the street. And harassment.

The consequences of this supervision will force professional women to constantly doubt whether their headscarves meet Taliban standards.

Barr said this will have a “deep chilling effect” on their ability to complete their work.

But women like Naby say that these restrictions will not prevent her from completing her job.

“We are working hard, we will not stop, we will continue what we are doing,” she said. “This is our plan.”

Hakimi agrees with Nabi, saying that if women stop fighting for their rights, “no one will give them to us”.

Additional report by Mohsin Khan Momand in Kabul

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