Mahira* has become a familiar face on Afghan television, as viewers tune in every night to watch her present the news. Even during the most turbulent recent events, the 27-year-old journalist remained calm and composed as she reported on the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.
On Saturday, Mahira appeared on screen, but her face was covered with a black mask following a Taliban decree ordering female news anchors to cover their faces while on air.
“[Saturday] was one of the hardest days of my life. They made us feel as if we had been buried alive,” Mahira told Al Jazeera. “I felt like I am not a human. I feel like I have committed a big crime which is why God made me a woman in Afghanistan,” she told Al Jazeera, choking back tears.
“Which law in the world requires women to cover their faces on TV? Even in [other] Islamic countries, female news anchors or presenters do not wear masks,” she said, the anger evident in her voice.
Sosan*, a 23-year-old TV presenter, shared Mahira’s anger. She began working in the media in 2019 with hopes of following in the footsteps of the brave Afghan women reporters she’d watched reporting from the length and breadth of the country.
“We had achieved so much, and had a robust free media, with growing presence of women in every sector. But look where we are now… in a country where I cannot even choose what to wear or what topics to report on,” she told Al Jazeera, referring to an earlier decree of “11 rules for journalists” that required journalists to seek Taliban approval before broadcasting reports.
Read full report on Al Jazeera