Afghanistan continues to impose mandates that violate human rights. The new Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has issued eight new regulations, one of which includes a rule that television and any other media cannot broadcast programmes featuring women, let alone showing any part of their bodies. At the same time, all female journalists appearing in the media are required to wear the burqa.
In addition, these rules also prohibit the showing of content that does not represent the culture and values imposed by the Taliban, and prohibit the broadcasting of any type of series, programme or film of foreign origin, since, according to the communiqué they have issued, these "must not indulge human dignity and Islamic values".
Afghan television personalities have reported that these new rules are offensive and infringe on people's identity, claiming that the Taliban, in their attempt to control the female gender, are going to have to exclude half of the popular culture population from their television grid. Afghan actress Mina, 26, told The National newspaper.
"By eliminating women, half of the Afghan population, from television programmes, the Taliban are trying to erase our identities, as if women do not exist in Afghanistan," she said.
The measures taken clearly violate human rights, and people like Mina had to learn to overcome, after the first Taliban rule, in a society in which the old norms towards women left a deep mark on the country. Luckily, the actress was able to make her debut and enter the nation's entertainment industry. "I had the opportunity to work in shows that portrayed strong female characters, along with equally strong women in the production teams. Now, everyone is under threat and some have been able to escape, but many, like me, are in hiding fearing reprisals," she told The National.
And like many other women who have challenged the new Taliban regime, the young actress has received several threats from the government itself, as well as from sympathisers and affiliates, accused of insulting the Islamic values that this new mandate seeks to impose on a population that is suffering the full consequences. "The history of culture and religion is made up of strong women, but the Taliban will not recognise this. I don't understand why they hate us so much," said Mina.
The Taliban government is not done with restrictions. In its quest to foment hatred and machismo against its male citizenry, it has also forced female journalists to wear burqas. And while fewer and fewer are appearing on the small screen, as they are either fired or have to flee for being anti-regime, this new rule will force the few that remain to cover themselves completely to do their work. Before the takeover, female presenters and journalists wore make-up and colourful costumes; now they have had to change their attire for sober clothes and renounce all freedom of expression.
This new ministry, which replaced the Ministry of Women's Affairs, also bans any foreign broadcast content, in which most women do not comply with Islamist dress codes. Turkish soap operas and serials, which are gaining global prominence, are to be completely banned as they feature women showing their hair, cleavage, etc. Content featuring men showing their torsoes will also be banned. "We have to counter the spread of immorality and the broadcasting of videos that are against Sharia," the ministry said.
Since the arrival of the Taliban in Kabul, women have been in grave danger. After two decades of normality since the last military mandate, women are once again faced with a situation where the government itself promotes hatred towards them and if they do not comply with its rules they are severely punished or even killed by the "moral police". Afghanistan is in breach of humanitarian rights and no one seems to put an end to this barbarism where being born a woman is a lifelong penance.