Afghanistan’s only radio station run by women has been closed down by the Taliban for playing music during the holy month of Ramadan. The station, “Sadai Banowan,” which translates to “women’s voice” in Dari, was founded a decade ago and has six female employees out of a total staff of eight.
Moezuddin Ahmadi, the director for Information and Culture in the northeastern province of Badakhshan, announced that the station had violated the “laws and regulations of the Islamic Emirate,” resulting in its closure. However, the head of the station, Najia Sorosh, denied any wrongdoing and called the shutdown a conspiracy.
The Taliban has said that if the station accepts the policies of the Islamic Emirate and guarantees not to repeat such actions, it may be allowed to operate again. However, many journalists have already lost their jobs since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, as media outlets closed due to lack of funding or because their staff had left the country.
Station head Najia Sorosh denied any wrongdoing and called the closure a conspiracy. The Taliban “told us that you have broadcast music. We have not broadcast any kind of music,” she said.
Sorosh said at 11:40 a.m. on Thursday representatives from the Ministry of Information and Culture and the Vice and Virtue Directorate arrived at the station and shut it down. She said station staff have contacted Vice and Virtue but officials there said they do not have any additional information about the closing.
In addition to shutting down the radio station, the Taliban has also barred women from most forms of employment and education beyond the sixth grade, including university. Although there is no official ban on music, the Taliban previously prohibited most television, radio, and newspapers during their previous rule in the late 1990s.