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Free Her Face

During their last time in power(1996 -2001), the #Taliban had imposed restrictions on women, with the imposition of the all-encompassing burqa and barring the women and girls of the country from schools and public life. Their second stint at power in #Afghanistan, with the fall of #Kabul in August last year, was hoped to be more moderate. However, with the months going by, such hopes of a moderate Taliban 2.0 have been dashed with their overtly discriminatory policies regarding women, which seem to be aimed at eradicating the presence of women from the country's public life.⁣ ⁣ At a recent press conference, the Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue declared that all women would have to cover their faces in public, setting punishments for anyone refusing to comply. The said punishment begins with a woman's male guardian (usually a father, brother, or husband) being visited by the Taliban officials. If the woman's appearance is unacceptable by the Taliban standards, her male relative would be summoned to see ministry officials. The male relative can be jailed for three days or sent to court.⁣ ⁣ These injunctions on #Afghan women are a series of decrees issued by the Taliban in recent months and weeks. They had earlier assigned separate days for the women to visit public parks to men and barred them from undertaking long-distance journeys without a male guardian or mahram. Under the Taliban, Afghanistan remains the only country to disallow teenage girls to school and limit the scope of work for women in various sectors.⁣ ⁣ Earlier this week, the Taliban enforced a new order which requires all-female TV news anchors to cover their faces while on air, with the Information and Culture Ministry withholding that the policy is 'final and non-negotiable.' The group also mandated that the female presenters could wear medical masks to cover their faces.⁣ ⁣ However, this new decree has resulted in the broad condemnation of the Taliban's move and protest. In solidarity with their female co-workers, male news anchors in Afghanistan began the #FreeHerFace social media campaign by covering their faces on the broadcast.

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