Afghan television stations will no longer be allowed to show films or series in which “women play a role or which contradict Islamic Sharia law or Afghan values”. This is what it says in an instruction from the Ministry for “Prayer, Guidance, the Promotion of Virtues and the Prevention of Vices” last Sunday. This ministry was established shortly after the Taliban came to power; it replaces the former Ministry of Women in Kabul.
The television stations are supposed to stop broadcasting films that “spread foreign cultures and traditions in Afghan society and cause immorality”. Presenters or reporters are still allowed to appear if they cover their hair and shoulders with the hijab.
Film and television as a propaganda tool
“That stunned me, even though I expected something like this,” said Afghan director Sahraa Karimi in an interview with DW. Sahraa Karimi was the president of the Afghan state film organization until she fled Afghanistan on August 17. The 36-year-old, who spent her youth in Iran and studied in Europe, was the first Afghan female director who dared to make a film in her home country. “With these guidelines, the Taliban want to show artists and directors who have stayed in Afghanistan where the journey is going and what to look out for.”
Sahraa Karimi at the 2021 Venice Film Festival
Karimi believes that nobody will resist: “Everyone knows that it is a matter of life and death. Some will even have to work with the Taliban. The Taliban will now commission new films for their propaganda and try to suit the aesthetic taste of society change and establish a new image of women in society. “
The director, who, as she herself says, has “lived out of a suitcase” since her escape from Afghanistan and has been traveling from one film festival to the next, adds: “It was never easy for women in Afghanistan. I myself, for example, always had to fight, to be able to assert myself as a woman. But I had the freedom to produce what I wanted to produce. It makes me very sad to see that in a time where countries like Saudi Arabia are shaped by Wahhabism and a strict one traditionalist Sunni Islam, the film industry is being expanded, the Taliban in Afghanistan are ruining everything we had achieved. “
Women in Public as “Disgrace”
The Taliban’s real goal is to ban women from the public, writes journalist Saleha Soadat from a secret location when asked by DW. The TV journalist, who used to be very well connected in Kabul, is afraid for her life. “Many female journalists have now left Afghanistan. Those who have stayed know that they are in constant danger and may never be able to work in Afghanistan again.”
For Soadat, who has always worn the hijab, the new Taliban regulations have nothing to do with Islam: “They are senseless and ridiculous. Even before that, women were always present in the Afghan media in accordance with Islamic custom and culture because Afghanistan is an Islamic country. ” In your opinion, the Taliban have a fundamental problem with the presence of women in public.
“They see that as a disgrace to society. There are no women in their government. Employed women have been sent home. Girls are not allowed to go to school. Now women should disappear from the media. We women call on the international community, this terror group never to be recognized. Because they do not believe in humanity and human values and human rights, which include freedom of expression. “
Problem for the west
The international community is, however, in a bind. Because in order to provide the urgently needed humanitarian aid, it has to cooperate with those in power, which amounts to factual recognition. For their part, the Taliban try to disguise their misogynistic measures as an instrument against the spread of “immorality” and the violation of Sharia law. How they interpret Sharia law has changed little since your reign of terror in the 1990s.
A year before the Taliban came to power, there were even fashion shows on the streets
At that time, too, they wanted in their reading to create a “safe environment for women in which their chastity and dignity are inviolable”. Women were forced to cover themselves from head to toe and wear the burqa in public. They were not allowed to leave the house or see a male doctor without a male companion. Work was forbidden for women, as was studying.