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Artists without art are essentially a dead person. Afghan Actresses Decry Taliban's Ban on Women in Entertainment: 'An Artist'' isn't really an artist

Artists without art are essentially a dead person. Afghan Actresses Decry Taliban's Ban on Women in Entertainment: 'An Artist'' isn't really an artist

Leena Alam, one of Afghanistan's best-known actresses, is in character as she explains how she is faced with an unthinkable choice.

Alam aspired to show he would know better than me how dangerous it is to be sexist with the Taliban, so you can't inflict one more drop of fear than I have already done, says AlAm in California.

Alam, who appeared in the popular feminist drama "Shereen," screams on Zoom in front of a waiting room for Paris, with signs for the airport.

The monologue was inspired by the interview with his close friend and former co-star Sabera Sadat, one of Afghanistan's top thespians. Sada was offered a rare ticket to France earlier this month, but declined as it turned out that there were no seats for her two young boys.

She and hundreds of other female artists and journalists are still waiting for the evacuation, or risk life of fear for their lives wearing a hijab and lying to strangers who know their faces as figures in the arts and media.

The new list of 8 religious guidelines issued to local media this week showed that their dehumanizing view of women hasn't changed.

The Taliban have imposed a ban on female bodies since around 2010, but they have now become obsolete and unveiled the cleavage and other female body parts in the country.

Tarique Qayumi, director of the Afghan government, isnt convinced that the Taliban can completely squeathe modern day desires for entertainment.

I don't think they will ban music or TV series altogether just women, he says. Theyll start with moralistic arguments about how we must protect our wives and sisters from appearing on screen, and when women slowly go to the background, people will think that this is normal, then they can roll out more directives.

Despite the Internets full control, the Taliban cant turn the entertainment tap off, since people can watch what they like on their smartphones still. They can, however, stop Afghans from telling their own stories completely, says Qayumi.

Despite the deterioration in the Afghan economy, the vibrant media ecosystem of nearly 50 TV channels and 20 newspapers is dragging to a halt without funding or niad revenues. The Taliban has been dictating the editorial strategy for all remaining stations, and production has ceased since the August takeover, leaving actors and crew to confront the winter jobless.

In her view, the Afghan media are able to see the world in an impossible situation when the broadcast journalist heard about the religious directives.

They always take cameras, break them and allow us to report. The Taliban that we're facing on the street is completely different from those that you see on TV or at Doha, she explains. "They always capture journalists, beat them, arrest them for so many hours. They take a camera, tear them down and don't allow them to be able to write reports.

Nabi continues. We're already having very tough times. At least now they announced their intentions, so the international press and community can see.

As the founder of the Baano TV station, Nabi is a hardly single-minded man. We are working under the burqa to produce our reports, then just keeping them because we cannot publish, she says. She describes her recent travels under recollection to investigate the terrible fates of women at domestic violence shelters.

Those who are still in Baano are most afraid to work outside their homes, but they continue broadcast old material and Islamic programs out of fear that the Taliban may seize the station and use them to their own ends if they shutter.

"We have very good memories, because our dreams came true," says Nabi, remembering how the male attitudes towards her staff changed since their start in 2017. "At least we have lots of fun memories," said Nashi, recalling the fact that a lot of women think that an all-women station was very funny, but we had technicians, camerawamen, directors, producers, everything and none without receiving any outside support."

Television has long been an out-sized influence in Afghanistan where 45% of men and 70% of women remain unliterate.

Since 2001, the medium was a force for progressive ideas since the sight of women on screen, and not as presenters, was huge and teach people to accept women in the public sphere, notes Mozhdah Jamalzad, famous for its multi-year hit MozHdr. Show (the Mojddh Show), the Oprah of Afghanistan who hosted the countrys first talk program.

The women entertainers, while also starting to sing and get their own shows, never hesitated to return to Afghanistan.

It came at a price: Women in show business received death threats constantly and were often beaten and even disowned by their families.

The California-based Alam describes working in Afghanistan during those years as a call and an act of courage. They threw bombs and hand grenades onto our sets because we talked about rape, forced marriage and divorce. It didn't scare me. I continued. This didnt make me angry.

She explains: I was not afraid more, because I was tired of them threatening or bombing me. I could not be suppressed, so I wanted to live with my art and speak freely, and because this country needed it, since we were tired forty years of war and suppression.

The embassy stepped in to inquire about the possibility of a raped, decapitated and killed woman. The story continued until 2012 when rumors spread that she was tortured, and scolded with her nose and chopped off the crime.

"I didn't want to be made an example of these terrorists, since that would stop a lot of women from going in my footsteps," she said of her eventual departure.

The new religious directives have closed the door firmly on a future that could have been.

She says that while resolving the new rules, she felt a searing 'anger towards humanity' for standing by and doing nothing to help Afghan women. The work I did to try to get to thy platform was for nothing, she says. "I have never felt so helpless in my life, Ive never been able to realize all the progress with women in media from the last 20 years is just unthinkable.

Alam has compiled a list of 94 cast members of the TV show "Shereen," where she and Sadat starred together, who remain in the country and hope to evacuate. They remain frequent contact.

Alam laments, all the artists are hurting, because an artist without art is basically dead.

I've been using art to change society and extremists' minds, and a beautiful weapon, to eradicate without killing or hurting people. Some of my friends say they'll die if they don't continue working it will kill them because they feel suffocated, like someones strangling their neck.