Women presenters on Afghanistan's leading news channels went on air Sunday with their faces covered, a day after defying a Taliban order to conceal their appearance on television.
Since seizing power last year, the Taliban have imposed a slew of restrictions on civil society, many focused on reining in the rights of women and girls to comply with the group's austere brand of Islam.
Earlier this month, Afghanistan's supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada issued a diktat for women to cover up fully in public, including their faces, ideally with the traditional burqa.
The feared Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice ordered women TV presenters to follow suit from Saturday. But the presenters defied the order and went on air with their faces visible.
Women presenters were previously only required to wear a headscarf. But now they have to wear full hijabs and face-covering veils that leave only their eyes in view, women presenters and reporters have aired morning news bulletins across leading channels like TOLOnews, Ariana Television, Shamshad TV and 1TV.
Soon after resuming control, the Taliban promised a softer version of the harsh Islamist rule that characterised their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001. Since the takeover, however, women have been banned from travelling alone and teenage girls barred from secondary schools.
Not only women have to face a lost of rights, LGBT Afghans and people who do not conform to rigid gender norms in Afghanistan have faced an increasingly desperate situation and grave threats to their safety and lives under the Taliban, Human Rights Watch and OutRight Action International said in a report.
Read the report here