The Guardian, 25 May 2022: Male Afghan News Anchors Mask Up To Support Female Staff

The article was written by Zahra Joya:

Male TV presenters in Afghanistan are wearing face masks on screen to show solidarity after the Taliban issued an order that all women on news channels must cover their faces.

In a protest called #FreeHerFace, men on Tolo News wore masks to mimic the effect of the face veil their female colleagues have been forced to wear after a Taliban crackdown.

The Taliban’s ministry of propagation of virtue and prevention of vice ordered all Afghan media outlets to use masks for female presenters. The decision was final and there was no room for debate, it said.

It follows a decree issued in early May that all women must cover their faces in public and male relatives face fines or jail if they do not adhere. Many women in cities such as Kabul defied the order.

Lema Spesali, 27, a news anchor for ITV in Kabul, said she was given the news of the Taliban’s latest decree on arrival at work on Sunday morning. “Two Taliban members came to our office and said the decision on compulsory masks for female anchors must be implemented.

“We had an office meeting and had to accept the Taliban order, but decided that male colleagues should also wear masks and stand by female colleagues.”


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