The presenters of the main Afghan television channels have gone on the air on Sunday covering their faces, complying with the order of the Taliban a day after having defied it.

Since returning to power last year, the Taliban have imposed a series of restrictions on civil society, many of them aimed at limiting women’s rights.

Earlier this month, the Taliban’s paramount chief issued an order requiring women to cover themselves completely in public, including their faces, ideally with the traditional burqa. Previously, just a scarf covering the hair was enough.

The feared Afghan Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice had ordered TV presenters to do so by Saturday. But the journalists decided not to obey that order on Saturday, and went on the air, live, without hiding their faces.

But on Sunday, the women wore full veils, revealing only their eyes and forehead when presenting the news on TOLOnews, Ariana Television, Shamshad TV and 1TV.

“We have resisted and we are against the use” of the full veil, Sonia Niazi, presenter of TOLOnews, told AFP. “But TOLOnews has been under pressure, (the Taliban) said that any presenter who appeared on the screen without covering her face should be given another job,” she stated.

“We will continue our fight using our voice. I will be the voice of other Afghan women,” she promised after presenting the newsletter. “We will come to work until the Islamic emirate removes us from public space or forces us to stay at home.”

“We will continue with our fight until our last breath,” said Lima Spesaly, presenter of 1TV, a few minutes before going on the air with her face covered.

TOLOnews director Khpolwak Sapai said the channel had been “forced” to implement the order for its staff. “They told us: you are obliged to do it. You must do it. There is no other solution,” Sapai told AFP. .

“Yesterday they called me on the phone and told me in strict terms to do it. Therefore, we do not do it by choice, but forced,” he lamented.

Mohamad Sadeq Akif Mohajir, a spokesman for the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, stated that the authorities had no intention of forcing the presenters to leave their jobs.

“We are happy that the channels have correctly exercised their responsibility,” he told AFP.-

The Taliban have ordered that women who work in the government be fired if they do not comply with the new dress code. Employees also risk being suspended if their wives or daughters don’t.

Returning to power in mid-August, the Taliban promised to introduce a more tolerant and flexible regime than during their first regime, between 1996 and 2001. But in recent months they have resumed the repression of the opposition and the erosion of freedoms, especially of women in education, work and daily life.

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