The Taliban leadership appears to be careful of the group’s public image, even as members continue to preach an exclusionary policy that deprives women of rights and education in the country.
The idea that the Taliban will suddenly change their ways has been greeted with deep skepticism.
“Please take care of the people, women and girls of Afghanistan,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the executive director of UN Women, wrote on Twitter on Monday. “A tragedy is unfolding before our eyes.”
When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, they banned women and girls from taking most jobs or attending school.
After the US invasion overthrew the Taliban, women’s rights became a rallying cry. Over two decades, the United States has invested more than $780 million in advancing women’s rights. Girls and women have joined the military and police, held political office, and competed in the Olympics and on robotics teams—things that once seemed unimaginable.
Now the fear is growing that all those hard-won rights will disappear.
Tolo News has been an independent force in the Afghan news media landscape, with soap operas and reality shows that go against the conservative ethos of the Taliban.
After their recent capture of Kabul, the Taliban entered Tolo’s news compound, collected all state-issued weapons and offered to help secure the compound.
Saad Mohsenic, the CEO of Moby Media Group, which oversees Tolo News, told the BBC that the Taliban had been professional and courteous. But he said he suspected his station’s content, especially entertainment, would eventually be censored.
“The Taliban are trying to take control,” he said.