A few days ago, the Taliban Foreign Affairs Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi gave a statement in support of women empowerment. He claimed that girls had been going to schools till grade 12 in the country’s 10 districts and that private schools and educational institutions had been operating unhindered. He even claimed that all of the women engaged in the health sector were back to work. Although the volte face seems to have been inspired by the regime’s desperation to unlock the international funding, there is little change on ground.    

In November only, the Taliban unveiled barbaric rules banning women from acting in the television dramas/soaps and requiring women journalists to wear the Hijab when they are on air. This only confirms Muttaqi’s non-seriousness and reaffirms the Taliban’s ideology which leaves no stone unturned in its attack on the freedom of Afghan women and girls. It comes as no surprise, since these policies are consistent with the deviant behaviour of the Taliban. The only visible change on part of the Taliban happens to be in their openness to engaging with the Anglo-American media agencies, whom they only engage with to communicate their ideology with more clarity; but they do not shy away from curbing their operations if they are found to be critical of their conduct. 

The eight-article order of the Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice of the Taliban government which was communicated to the media lists the following directives: 

  1. The media should not publish serials in which women have played a role. 
  2. It is forbidden to publish satirical and comedy programs in which people are humiliated. 
  3. It is forbidden to publish videos and videos that show a man’s private parts. 
  4. Domestic and foreign films that are contrary to Afghan law and principles are prohibited. 
  5. Female journalists must observe the Islamic hijab. 
  6. Broadcasting serials and programs in which the role of companions and prophets is forbidden 
  7. Televisions should not broadcast anti-Sharia films. 
  8. The media should refrain from publishing programs and serials in which the religion and dignity of mankind have been insulted.


Afghanistan’s media and working women have been the foremost casualties since the Taliban’s takeover. Female journalists were among the fastest people to disappear after the coup. I am not simply talking about the hundreds of media outlets that were shut down with the arrival of the Taliban, but even including the hundreds of journalists who have left the country due to security threats or have changed their occupation, or have been assaulted by the Taliban. The Taliban’s treatment of the media has been clear since they were in power. Dozens of journalists have been killed in direct suicide attacks, and even recently in Ghazni and Kandahar, several journalists have been brutally killed, and its harrowing images have long been circulated on social media. However, given their past actions, can the belief in media freedom be incorporated into the Taliban’s ideological framework? The answer is obviously in negative. 

Ideologically, the Taliban have a fundamental problem with the rights and freedoms enshrined in the present day constitutional order which stresses on the liberties of individuals. They oppose investigative, critical reports, and discussions that point to their nature and performance. The Taliban’s treatment of the media is religious. An approach that only restricts the media and can still work for the general public, who have little understanding of religion; To be accepted. The Taliban have a fundamental problem with women and their human rights. If the laws and declarations issued by the Islamic Emirate for government departments, academic institutions and the media; Let’s see, the Taliban do not tolerate the active and effective presence of women in any field, and with sharia restrictions, they intend to marginalize and eliminate women. The Taliban have negotiated issues related to power-sharing with the Americans actively for the last ten years, the have learn the art of diplomacy and other related sophistications. But what cannot be doubted and what is impossible to hide is their rigid interpretations of religion, which have always kept women at the receiving end. 


By Dr. Rita Anwari

Dr. Anwari is the Founding Director of Women Empowerment and Leadership in Australia. An experienced activist, Dr Anwari has long campaigned for social justice, equality and inclusive growth in Afghanistan.

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