Taliban order Afghan women to cover faces in public

The Taliban on Saturday imposed some of the strictest restrictions on Afghan women since they took power, ordering them to cover completely — including their faces — in public, ideally with the traditional burqa.

The decree by Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada also said that if women did not have important work outside the home, it was “better that they stayed at home”, and set penalties for their male guardians if they did not adhere to the new dress code.

“So much pain and sorrow for women in my country, my heart explodes. So much hatred and anger against the Taliban, enemies of women, enforcers of gender apartheid, enemies of Afghanistan and humanity. The world is a beholder of our pain, of apartheid, to complete the tyranny,” tweeted Shaharzad Akbar, the former chairman of the Afghan Human Rights Commission.

It said the best way for a woman to cover her face and body was to wear the chadari, a traditional blue all-coverage Afghan burqa with a screen over the face.

The Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which released the new order, announced a slew of penalties if the dress code is not followed.

Women who work in government agencies and do not follow the order “should be fired,” the ministry added.

– ‘Regressive’ –

The international community has long linked the resumption of aid to the Afghan economy, devastated by more than four decades of fighting, and recognition of the Taliban government with the Islamists’ ability to deliver on their promises.

“We are extremely concerned that the rights and progress Afghan women and girls have achieved and enjoyed over the past 20 years are being eroded,” a US State Department spokesman told AFP.

The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan similarly condemned the Taliban’s action and said it could strengthen engagement with the international community.

“Such moves will only strengthen opposition to them,” said Imtiaz Gul, head of the Islamabad-based Center for Research and Security Studies.

Since their return to power, the dreaded deputy ministry has issued several “guidelines” on clothing, but Saturday’s edict is one of the strictest restrictions on women.

“I believe the Taliban are becoming regressive instead of progressive. They are going back to how they were in their previous regime.”

“We are a broken nation forced to endure attacks we cannot comprehend. As a people, we are being crushed,” she said on Twitter.

Officials have never justified the ban, except that girls’ education must be according to “Islamic principles”.

Women have also been ordered to visit parks in the capital on days other than men.

In the 20 years between the two periods of the Taliban’s rule, girls were allowed to go to school and women in all sectors could seek employment, although the country remained socially conservative.


Originally published as Taliban orders Afghan women to cover faces in public

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