Taliban orders Afghan women to cover their faces in public

Burqa-clad women walk on a street in Kandahar on May 7, 2022. On May 7, the Taliban imposed some of the toughest restrictions on Afghan women since taking power, ordering them to cover themselves fully in public , ideally with the traditional burqa. Javed TANVEER / AFP

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban on Saturday imposed some of the toughest restrictions on Afghan women since taking power, ordering them to cover themselves fully — including their faces — in public, ideally with the traditional burqa.

Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada’s decree also stated that if women did not have meaningful work outside, it was better “for them to stay at home” and provided penalties for their male guardians if they failed to comply. not the new dress code.

It was the latest in a series of restrictions imposed on women by the Taliban, including banning them from government jobs, secondary education and traveling alone outside their cities, and drew widespread international condemnation.

“So much pain and sorrow for the women of my country, my heart explodes. So much hatred and anger against the Taliban, enemies of women, responsible for gender apartheid, enemies of Afghanistan and humanity. The world is witnessing our pain, apartheid, total tyranny,” tweeted Shaharzad Akbar, the former chairperson of the Afghan Human Rights Commission.

“Those women who are not too old or too young should cover their face except the eyes as per Sharia guidelines to avoid provocation when meeting men who are not mahram (male relatives adult relatives),” said the decree approved by Akhundzada. and released by Taliban authorities at a ceremony in Kabul.

He said the best way for a woman to cover her face and body is to wear the chadari, a traditional, blue, covering Afghan burqa that includes a face shield.

“They should wear a chadari because it’s traditional and respectful,” he said.

The Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which issued the new order, announced a series of penalties if the dress code is not adhered to.

He said a woman’s father or male guardian would be summoned and could even be imprisoned if the offense was committed repeatedly.

Women working in government institutions who did not follow the order “should be fired”, the ministry added.

Government employees whose wives and daughters do not comply will also be suspended from their jobs, the executive order says.

– ‘Regressive’ –
The militants regained control of the country in August last year, promising a looser rule than their previous stint in power between 1996 and 2001, which was marred by human rights abuses.

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

But the new controls on women realized the worst fears of human rights activists and sparked a wave of condemnations abroad.

“We are extremely concerned that the rights and progress that Afghan women and girls have achieved and enjoyed over the past 20 years are being eroded,” a spokesman for the department told AFP. of American state.

The official added, “We and many of our partners in the international community remain deeply troubled by recent Taliban measures against women and girls, including restrictions on education and travel.”

The UN Mission in Afghanistan also condemned the Taliban’s move, saying it could “further worsen engagement with the international community”.

“If they want international acceptance, they must uphold their obligations and commitments, particularly on the rights of women and girls,” the UK Foreign Office said in a statement.

“Such measures will only intensify the opposition,” said Imtiaz Gul, director of the Islamabad-based Center for Security Research and Studies.

Under their first regime, the Taliban made the burqa compulsory for women.

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

“Islam has never recommended chadari,” said a women’s rights activist who asked not to be named.

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

Another women’s rights activist, Muska Dastageer, said the Taliban regime had sparked “too much rage and disbelief”.

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

Extremist Islamists sparked international outrage in March when they ordered secondary schools for girls to close, just hours after they reopened for the first time since taking power.

The authorities have never justified the ban, apart from the fact that the education of girls must be in accordance with “Islamic principles”.

This ban was also issued by Akhundzada, according to several Taliban officials.

Women were also ordered to visit the capital’s parks on different days from men.

Some Afghan women initially pushed back strongly against the restrictions, staging small protests – but the Taliban cracked down on these unauthorized gatherings and arrested several of the ringleaders, holding them incommunicado while denying they had been detained.

In the 20 years between the two terms of the Taliban in power, girls were allowed to go to school and women were able to seek employment in all sectors, even if the country remained socially conservative.

Many women already wear the burqa in rural areas.

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