Afghan women banned from TV shows as Taliban restrict media freedoms

Women queue to receive cash at a money distribution organized by the World Food Program in Kabul Credit: AP

Ultra-conservative new guidelines have banned Afghanistan television networks from showing soap operas or dramas featuring women have been issued by the Taliban.

The directive came from the notorious Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice and was the first time the Taliban has moved to control entertainment media since seizing power.

The new rules came despite previous Taliban pledges saying they would not restrict women's freedoms as much as they did during their first time in power in the 1990s.

During their first rule, most television networks and films were completely banned.

Afghanistan's economy has basically come to a stop since the Taliban took over Credit: AP

Since returning to power women have been discouraged from attending secondary school or university and have been told to give up their professional jobs.

The new rules say any shows that were against Islamic or Afghan values should be banned.

They also said anything that promotes foreign cultures and values should be banned.

Ministry spokesman Hakif Mohajir told the AFP news agency: ''These are not rules but a religious guideline."

Other rules include female news presenters being required to wear a hijab when on-air.Although the number of female actors on Afghan television shows will have made up a tiny proportion of workers, the latest move is a further restriction on people's ability to find a job.

Afghan women and children receive bread donations in Kabul's Old City Credit: AP

Since the Taliban take over, the economy has all but collapsed and with the withdrawal of international aid - which left the country when Western forces pulled out - many people are struggling to get access to basic goods.

According to the UN, 22% of the population of 38 million is already near-famine and another 36% are facing acute food insecurity.

The withdrawal of international aid also destroyed much of the country's middle class, with government officials and publically employed doctors having their salaries often paid for by other countries.

Without that funding, many workers have not been paid for months.

Hospitals are seeing increasing numbers of emaciated, malnourished children, mostly from the country’s poorest families who were already barely getting by.The country’s economy is estimated to have contracted 40% in just three months.