Female Anchors Defy Taliban by Continuing to Present on Afghanistan News Channel

Tolo News, Afghanistan's most popular 24-hour news channel, resumed its broadcast with female anchors on Tuesday and one even interviewed a Taliban official, a stunning sight considering how much women's rights were stifled under their previous rule.

The channel's head of news Miraqa Popal made the announcement in a tweet.

"Our female presenter is interviewing a Taliban media team member live in our studio," Tolo's head of news, Miraqa Popal, wrote on Twitter.

Earlier on, Popal said: "We resumed our broadcast with female anchors today. @TOLOnews #Afghanistan." Popal said, adding a photo of a female anchor presenting the news on the channel to his tweet.

We resumed our broadcast with female anchors today.@TOLOnews #Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/YLqtJEYceL

— Miraqa Popal (@MiraqaPopal) August 17, 2021

Beheshta Arghand, a female television anchor for Tolo, interviewed the Taliban official on camera on Tuesday in the channel's studio, asking about the situation in Kabul and the Taliban's house searches in the capital.

However, CNN reported on Monday that the homes of two female journalists were visited by Taliban fighters on Sunday and that both of them were shaken psychologically.

Citing sources, the news channel reported that one of the journalists said she was "very worried about my safety and that of my family." Several female journalists are said to have received threatening calls from the Taliban.

On Monday, Amnesty International's Secretary-General, Agnès Callamard, said the "tragedy" in Afghanistan will be made worse if the international community didn't act quickly.

"Thousands of Afghans are at serious risk of Taliban reprisals – from academics and journalists to activists and women human rights defenders – and are in danger of being abandoned to a deeply uncertain future," she said.

The Taliban are looking to convince the Afghan people that they have changed since their brutal rule in the late 1990s. Under the Taliban's ultra-conservative Islamic rule, women's rights were severely restricted and stonings, amputations and public executions were common.

Many Afghans are wary, but the militant group declared an "amnesty" across Afghanistan and urged women to join their government on Tuesday.

"The Islamic Emirate doesn't want women to be victims," said Enamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban's cultural commission, using the militants' name for Afghanistan. "They should be in the government structure according to Shariah law." His remarks came in stark contrast to the Taliban's previous rule, where women were mainly made to stay at home.

On Monday, CNN's chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward challenged a Taliban commander over the insurgent group's treatment of women.

"How will you protect women?" Ward asked.

"The female, the woman can continue their life and we will not say anything for them. They can go to the school. They can continue their education with Islamic hijab," the commander responded.

Ward, while wearing a hijab, asked, "Like I'm wearing?"

He then clarified that women would be required to wear a niqab, which is a veil worn that covers a woman's entire face except for their eyes. Ward pressed the Taliban commander, asking why women will be required to cover their faces. He said it is required by Islam.

"Because it is in Islam," he said.

Ward pushed back, "Is it in Islam, though, that you have to wear a niqab?" to which he responded, "of course."

Ward reported that she had seen fewer women outside in Kabul than usual since the Taliban entered the city and seized power on Sunday.

Tolo Taliban interview
Beheshta Arghand, a female television anchor for Tolo News, interviewed a Taliban official on camera Tuesday in the channel’s studio, asking about the situation in Kabul and the Taliban’s house searches in the capital. Tolo News/Screengrab