Taliban’s strict new rules and restrictions on Afghan media

Written by By Staff Writer

Zarghuna Kaboli (@:zarghuna kaboli ) is an Afghan TV anchor and mother of three.

She has been an outspoken supporter of women’s rights in Afghanistan and spoke out in favor of the anti-stoning statute in one of the country’s most publicized human rights cases.

But she’s unable to create her own programs in her beloved country, while speaking out about issues affecting ordinary people.

In a news release Thursday, Afghanistan’s militant Islamic government has prohibited women’s access to broadcast TV dramas and declared that males in the media should bear sole responsibility for portraying the country as it should be.

“The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan announced today that for broadcasting dramas in the media, the guest is responsible only for a role in the drama and not to take part in it, be it talking on the phone, in front of the camera or in any other form,” the statement said.

The Taliban has gone on to restrict the actions of women in areas outside the home, including schools, health care facilities and public gatherings. The broadcasting regulation is an additional imposition and is seen as an attempt to limit the influence of women.

Under the new regulation, western and other non-Islamic shows are considered subversive and will be stamped out. Programming that portrays the country in a bad light, or being painted “in a negative light,” is banned from airing, according to the statement.

“Television shows should be about the benefits of our independence, especially those in the south,” spokesperson for the Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters.

Women have often been used as pawns in bitter battles between factions, so this is a step backwards. Ayad Smasrakh

The Taliban controls dozens of areas of the country, and it typically mandates the display of Taliban-friendly images and propaganda.

A women’s rights advocate expressed outrage at the move in a news release.

“Today is a very sad day for us and our country and women in the south will suffer especially because they will not be able to watch a drama or watch a film in their area,” Javid Faisalzai, a women’s rights activist, said.

“They have had restrictions in the past and we were never like that. We won’t be able to connect to the world, which will have a big impact on the life of women in Afghanistan,” he said.

“This is a very sad day for us and our country. Even though we are not like other countries in the world we have our own culture, and when it comes to media, it is also part of our culture,” he said.

‘Control TV, radio’

In 2016, CNN reported on a struggle for women to gain control of their media space in Afghanistan.

“We welcome the fact that the government … is bringing an end to what many people consider a dangerous force,” Faisalzai said.

“It’s important that any decision for the women in the media should come from them,” he said.

“Women have often been used as pawns in bitter battles between factions, so this is a step backwards,” Ayad Smasrakh, chief executive officer of the Afghan Women’s Theatre Club, said.

“It’s critical to put a spotlight on women who are busy with their daily life and who are not focused on any things in the media,” she said.

“Women can only make their voices heard by being involved in the media. They are not allowed to be heard unless they are part of the media. So, it is simply controlling the media, by banning women from being part of the media.

“When you control the media, you control the people. So this is a total and complete restriction of the media,” she said.

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