Taliban issues new rules saying only men can appear in TV dramas

Women journalists must wear headscarves, while movies against Islamic laws are forbidden

Shweta Sharma
Monday 22 November 2021 12:09 GMT
Women line up to receive cash at a money distribution point organised by the World Food Program in Kabul
Women line up to receive cash at a money distribution point organised by the World Food Program in Kabul (AP)

The Taliban government in Afghanistan has banned television channels from airing TV dramas with women actors in its latest set of directives.

Women journalists and presenters have been ordered to wear hijabs, or head coverings, during appearances on television programmes.

The new guidelines were issued by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. It released eight new directives for television channels.

The new rules prohibit foreign and domestic films that promote “immorality” and are against the principles of sharia or Islamic laws. Men have also been barred from exposing body parts. Songs, comedies and entertainment shows considered insulting to religion or offensive to Afghan values have also been forbidden.

But the ministry’s spokesperson, Hakif Mohajir, claimed that these were “not rules but a religious guideline”, according to AFP.

In the past two decades, since the previous Taliban rule, the Afghan media industry has grown exponentially. Afghan channels now show many foreign dramas, mostly Turkish and Indian soap operas. They also offered programmes similar to American Idol singing shows and music videos.

The latest guidelines barring women from public spaces came after the group instructed girls and young women to stay home from school immediately after seizing control from the US and allied forces in mid-August. Secondary schools have reopened for boys in Afghanistan but are still shut for an overwhelming majority of girls.

It has also introduced rules on what women can wear in universities, and its fighters have assaulted several Afghan journalists.

The Taliban, which came to power in Afghanistan this August, had claimed that its rule would be more moderate this time. However, despite these assurances, most of its current rules are a throwback to the 1990s, when the hardline Islamist group barred women from working and girls from going to school. Women also had to be chaperoned by a male relative if they wanted to leave their house.

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