Women excluded from Afghan TV dramas under new Taliban media rules

All dramas, soap operas and entertainment shows with women are banned according to government guidelines issued to TV stations on Sunday.

The country’s Ministry of Propagation and Virtue Prevention issued eight directives on what may be broadcast, in the first restrictions of their kind imposed on the country’s media network.

Among the directives, female news presenters must now wear a headscarf on screen. Similarly, men on screen must wear “proper clothing” even though the guidelines do not specify what types of clothing are considered “proper”.

The ministry added that films contrary to Islamic law and Afghan values ​​should not be broadcast, nor should foreign and domestic films that “promote foreign culture and values.”

The rules also say that entertainment and comedy programs “should not be based on insulting others” nor “to insult human dignity and Islamic values.”

Finally, television broadcasts depicting “the prophets and companions” should not be broadcast, it says.

Under the previous Taliban government – in power from 1996 to 2001 – television was banned, as were most other forms of media.

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Monday’s tough new media rules come despite promises from the Taliban that they would be more moderate in exercising power this time.

The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in mid-August when the United States and Western allies withdrew their forces. Women and girls were quickly instructed to stay home from work and school, and the restrictions on television appearances further restrict women’s freedom under the new regime.

When a group of women protested against the announcement of the exclusively male government in Kabul in September, Taliban fighters beat them with whips and sticks.

In October, CNN spoke with women in Kabul who returned to public space after staying inside for the first few insecure weeks of Taliban rule.

But the Taliban’s recent media verdict shows that the presence of women in public life is still uncertain.

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