Male Afghanistan Reporters Protesting Taliban Rules Against Women By Doing This

By Jacob Taylor | Monday, 30 May 2022 20:30
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Male television presenters at multiple news outlets in Afghanistan are opposing the Taliban’s decree that women cover their faces in public by covering their faces with masks, Human Rights Watch documents.

Their act of solidarity embarked on the social media campaign #FreeHerFace, where others posted pictures of themselves with their faces covered.

“Afghan men showing up for Afghan women is not just a gesture,” women’s rights activist Mina Sharif tweeted on Twitter. “It's a turn in the story that will change everything. Bravo brothers.”

Two weeks ago, the Taliban demanded that women and girls must veil their faces in public and circumvent being outside at all. Punishment for failing to comply would be imposed on their male family members.

The Hill conveys that the Taliban’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue ordered all women television presenters to cover their faces on Thursday, expressing that “the decision was final and that there was no room for discussion.”

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When the rule was announced at first, it was mainly ignored by female broadcasters. Yet, according to The Hill, by Sunday the new policy seemed to be in effect.

In addition to disobeying “women’s rights to freedom of expression, as well as personal autonomy and religious belief,” the "law" will also “prevent access to information for people who are deaf or hard of hearing who lip read or rely on visual speech cues to help them understand people speaking,” Human Rights Watch Women’s Rights Associate Director Heather Barr and researcher Sahar Fetrat reported of the decision.

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Ziauddin Yousafzai, the father of Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, posted to the #FreeHerFace campaign Monday.

“Day 249, faces are windows to our souls and personalities,” Yousafzai noted. “Our faces are our identities. It is our basic human right to show our identities. Also when girls are enrolled in schools they get an identity.”

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Malala Yousafzai became an international icon of the fight for girls’ education after she was shot in the head in 2012 for resisting Taliban restrictions on female education in her home country of Pakistan. In December 2014, she became the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

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The Taliban have stomped on many rights of women in Afghanistan since taking control over Kabul in August, despite promises of a more indulgent regime.

Since coming to power, the radical group has blocked girls’ access to secondary education, barred women from most employment, hampered women’s freedom of movement, impeded women’s access to health care, and eliminated systems intended to protect women from violence.

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It’s time for foreign governments to do much more to bring awareness to their concerns. Diplomats meeting with the Taliban should signal support for the #FreeHerFace campaign and speak out publicly against the Taliban’s intensifying violations of the rights of women and girls.

Women journalists are just the latest casualties in what has become the most serious women’s rights crisis in the world. But the Taliban are not immotile, and coordinated pressure has the potential to influence their decisions. Donors and governments owe it to Afghan women and girls to do more to defend their rights.

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