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Taliban refuse to let female news anchor do her job – one day after claiming women will be free to work

A female news presenter for Afghanistan’s state-run broadcaster says she is being blocked from doing her job by the Taliban.

Shabnam Dawran, a female anchor for the Kabul-based Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA), alleges that the Taliban prevented her from working on Wednesday and ordered her to “go home”.

In a video shared with Afghan news network TOLO News, Ms Dawran said she was blocked from going in to work.

Ms Dawran, who was wearing a hijab and carrying ID, said “I went to RTA but they told me that the regime has changed, you are not allowed, go home”.

The intervention at the state-owned broadcaster comes just one day after Taliban leaders claimed at a press conference that women would be free to work.

On Tuesday, on the Taliban’s first news conference since seizing control of Kabul, Zabihullah Mujahid had claimed: “Women are an important part of our society, they can work, they can get education, they are needed in our society, and they will be actively involved.

“There will be nothing against women under our rule. Our women are Muslims, they accept Islamic rules, and if they continue to live according to sharia law, we will be happy and they will be happy.”

On Tuesday, as the private TOLO News resumed broadcasting, it featured two female journalists reporting live from Kabul, with one interviewing a Taliban media team member live in the studio.

During their rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban stopped women and girls from going to work or school, and women had to cover their face and be accompanied by a male relative if they wanted to leave their homes.

Women were also not allowed to appear on the radio, television or at public gatherings of any kind. They were also instructed not to speak loudly in public spaces as no stranger should hear their voice.

While Taliban leaders have attempted to paint the new leadership as more moderate, there are already widespread reports of women being erased from public spaces.

Homira Rezai, who grew up in Afghanistan, told BBC Women’s Hour: “Just an hour ago, I received an update from Kabul where they are going house to house searching for women who were activists, women who were bloggers, Youtubers, any women who had a role in the development of civil society in Afghanistan,” she said.