A new militant group has banned women from appearing in Afghanistan’s first, and so far only, full-length women’s television drama, according to reports.
The self-styled Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which has no official ties to the government of President Ashraf Ghani, has demanded that female actors be replaced by men for the next two seasons of the 12-part show – but that their presence would not count as a test of the new rules.
The group’s media chief, Maulvi Abdul Manan, said the morality of the show had to be upheld. He told media outlets that the re-casting of female actors was part of the Taliban-mandated reform of social life.
“A television drama without women will not work properly in Afghanistan. It is impossible for them to work in that kind of content,” he said. “It is our aspiration to get rid of religious extremism.”
The drama has been made by a Kabul-based Afghan actress, Shabnam Saeedi, and is about a fight against domestic violence.
Saeedi could not be reached for comment on the reports. Another actor who helped craft the show, 25-year-old Fatima Aslam, confirmed that the new restrictions had been imposed.
She said: “[The Taliban] told us last night that there will be no women in the next TV drama. There will be no women in the upcoming seasons either, except for the script-writers.”
She said the issue was still being discussed internally.
“But if we change our mind and still decide to take the show, then we will submit the scripts to the Taliban for approval.”
Last month, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said “soft and public cases” that harmed women and children were off limits, and that female actors were barred from seeing a man to decide roles in the drama.
He also said there were no restrictions on distribution and broadcast of the show in the religious provinces, but that the Afghan actors’ union denied the claim.