Afghan male journalists wear masks on-air in solidarity with female colleagues

·1 min read

Male journalists at several major news outlets in Afghanistan have covered their faces on-air in recent days, protesting the Taliban’s order that women, including television presenters, cover their faces in public.

Their moves prompted other Afghan men to post photos with their faces covered as part of the #FreeHerFace social media campaign, Human Rights Watch reported.

Earlier this month, the Taliban issued a decree that women and older girls must cover their faces in public and avoid being outside if possible.

Last week, the Taliban’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue said female television presenters had to cover their faces as well, adding that “the decision was final and that there was no room for discussion.”

Few female newscasters complied when the rule was initially announced on Thursday, but by Sunday it appeared the policy was being enforced.

“The rule blatantly violates women’s rights to freedom of expression, as well personal autonomy and religious belief,” Human Rights Watch Women’s Rights Associate Director Heather Barr and researcher Sahar Fetrat wrote of the decision.

“It will also prevent access to information for people who are deaf or hard of hearing who lip read or rely on visual speech cues to help them understand people speaking,” they added.

Since taking over Kabul in August, the Taliban have quashed many rights of women in Afghanistan, despite promising a more equitable regime.

The hard-line group has limited girls’ access to education by barring them from secondary schools, restricted women’s employment opportunities and eliminated systems intended to protect women from violence.

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