Los Angeles: Leena Alam, one of Afghanistan’s best-known actresses, is in character as she explains facing an unthinkable choice, reports ‘Variety’.
“Who would know better than me how dangerous it is to be an actress with the Taliban? You cannot inflict me with one more drop of fear than I already have,” says the California-based Alam as part of a virtual performance of a monologue for the LA Writers Center.
“You offer me death and my children, or life without them? What would you do? I will go home.” Tearfully, Alam, who starred in popular shows such as the feminist drama ‘Shereen’, rocks back and forth on Zoom in front of a backdrop of an airport waiting room with signs for Paris.
The monologue was spun from an interview with her close friend and former co-star Sabera Sadat, another of Afghanistan’s top thespians. Earlier this month, in Kabul, Sadat was offered a rare ticket to France, but declined it when it turned out there were no seats for her two young boys.
She and hundreds of other female artistes and journalists are still awaiting evacuation, or else they risk a lifetime of fear for their lives “wearing a hijab and lying to strangers who know [their] face” as figures in the arts and media.
Though the Taliban have told the world they are no longer the same brutal terrorists who reigned decades ago, a new list of eight religious guidelines issued to local media this week shows their dehumanising view of women has not changed, says ‘Variety’.
Women may no longer appear in dramas and soap operas on television and women journalists must wear the hijab, says the first missive of its kind from the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
Under pressure from the Taliban, Afghan TV stations have self-censored and blurred out cleavage and other female body parts since around 2010, but a ban on the female figure altogether would set the country back decades.