It seems that the Taliban will only rest after ensuring that all Afghan women have been stripped of their rights and dignity. In their latest diktat, they have required female TV presenters to cover their faces while on air.

The new ruling, which will come into force from May 21, has been slammed by social media users worldwide. This latest regressive step comes just two weeks after the Taliban regime made it mandatory for women to cover themselves from head to toe.

#AFG A powerful message from an Afghan woman (TOlo TV Host) that needs reflection: This is me, Yalda Ali, a woman -on verge of being eliminated by the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue. We are required to appear like this, hereafter. @bsarwary

— Wali Arian (@waliarian) May 19, 2022

"How can I read the news with my mouth covered? I don't know what to do now - I must work, I am the breadwinner of my family," an Afghan TV presenter told the BBC.

According to a spokesman for the Taliban's Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue, the ruling is just an "advice." It is not clear if action will be taken against those who do not comply with the decree.

"Yesterday we met with media officials... they accepted our advice very happily," the spokesperson told Reuters. He added that the presenters could even use a mask to cover their faces.

The Taliban had promised a more liberal approach towards women and their rights after taking over Afghanistan last year, but all the steps taken so far have targeted women's freedom. Women are being confined to homes and have been asked to stay veiled.

There is no one in the country who can now stand up for women's rights and freedom. There have been some protests against the regime by women's rights activists but to no avail. All kinds of protests have been crushed by threat, intimidation and punishment.

The new edict is the latest in a series of restrictions announced by the Taliban to further control and govern women's bodies. They have been barred from boarding a flight without a male relative, and women cannot undertake any long journey without a male relative or guardian.

Women are forbidden from taking inter-city road trips alone, and they can only visit public parks on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays. The Taliban had also backtracked on the decision to open schools for girls beyond the 6th grade.

The Taliban are taking Afghanistan back to the 1990s when women were required to wear an all-encompassing blue burqa. They had no rights whatsoever and their existence had only one purpose and that was to serve their husbands and families.

The Taliban have imposed various restrictions on women and girls, despite pledging a softer rule compared with their first stint in power in the 1990s Photo: AFP / Wakil KOHSAR