Clarissa Ward clarified that she always wore a headscarf while reporting in Kabul, but she wore an abaya for the first time while reporting lately.
In August, the Taliban took over control of Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani fled, and the NATO forces withdrew from the country. Many Afghans are trying to escape from the country as they fear the Taliban could impose Sharia law that invades women's fundamental rights. Several journalists have been actively reporting on site, communicating with the Taliban, and giving updates on the situation.
While many people on social media have lauded journalists for reporting in such risky situations, some have taken images out of context.
Images of women journalists have gone viral, comparing the supposedly "before and after" versions of their lives. One such post focussed on CNN's chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward where, in one photo, she was pictured reporting without a head covering compared to another with an abaya (a full-length outer garment for women). Social media users mocked Ward by captioning the images with phrases such as "liberal feminist," "future of Afghan women," "my life, Taliban's choice."
On August 16, Ward clarified that the post was "inaccurate." She explained that the photo without the head covering was taken inside a "private compound," whereas the other picture was from the streets of Taliban-held Kabul. Ward added that she previously wore a headscarf while reporting on the street in Kabul but wore an abaya and fully covered her hair while reporting recently. She added that "there is a difference but not quite this stark."
CNN published an article on the challenging circumstances faced by women journalists reporting during the Taliban rule. Under the Taliban's renewed control, they expressed that women shall retain certain rights. CNN also reported that several female journalists are said to have received threatening calls from the Taliban.
One of the Taliban fighters told Ward that female journalist could still practice their profession as long as they "adhered to their rules." They would be expected to wear the Niqab (a garment of clothing that covers the face)while reporting and not mingle with men apart from their families.
However, in a conference on August 24, 2021, Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taliban's spokesperson, advised women not to go to work for their safety as the Taliban "keep changing and are not trained" despite assuring the previous week about respecting women right under their regime.