The Taliban say women in Afghanistan must wear clothes from head to toe in public: NPR


Afghan women are waiting to receive meals distributed by the Saudi humanitarian group in Kabul on April 25. Taliban rulers in Afghanistan on Saturday ordered all Afghan women to wear clothes from head to toe in public.

Ebrahim Noroozi / AP


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Ebrahim Noroozi / AP


Afghan women are waiting to receive meals distributed by the Saudi humanitarian group in Kabul on April 25. Taliban rulers in Afghanistan on Saturday ordered all Afghan women to wear clothes from head to toe in public.

Ebrahim Noroozi / AP

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Taliban officials have announced that women and girls will be expected to stay at home and, if they dare, to cover themselves in all-encompassing wide clothing that only reveals their eyes – preferably a burqa.

Restrictions on women’s movement and dress are the harshest the Taliban has announced since coming to power in August. This suggests the growing dominance of hardline group leaders, who seem to be behind the extended ban on most women and girls from attending high school.

Saturday’s announcement appears to have confirmed fears among many Afghans that the Taliban have remained unchanged after two decades without power. When the Taliban last ruled – from 1996 to 2001 – they also imposed strict restrictions on women’s clothing and movement and prevented most girls from going to school.

Some Afghan women welcomed the news with astonishment.

“So much pain and sorrow for the women of my country, my heart explodes,” tweeted Shaharzad Akbarthe former head of a prominent Afghan human rights group, now living in exile.

Rules would mean punishments for a woman’s male guardian

The directive on the clothing of women and girls in puberty came from the Taliban acting minister for the promotion of virtues and the prevention of vices, a well-known hardliner, Khaled Hanafi.

“We want our sisters to live with dignity and security,” he said.

However, it was not clear which legislative stages – if any – the directive has yet to go through to implement. The state-run Afghan news agency Bakhtar described it as a bill “approved and implemented” by Taliban Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhundzada.

“This is just another step closer to seeing the dominance of these truly retrograde, out-of-touch elements of the Taliban,” he said. Ashley Jacksonco-director of the Kenya-based Center for the Study of Armed Groups, where she focuses on the Taliban.

“I think it also symbolizes the dominance of this base in the Ministry of Virtue, which played an equally big role in the 1990s.”

The Bakhtar news agency said the rules would be in place implemented gradually, first by preaching and persuasion — and then by punishment.

The woman will not be punished, but her male guardians. Her brother, father, husband or son will have the task of enforcing the rules, and they will answer if she defies them. Penalties would vary from few days in prison to be fired.

That turns Afghan women into minors in the eyes of Taliban officials, they say Heather Barr Human Rights Watch.

“The Taliban are indeed taking a very significant step in terms of taking away the autonomy that is still left for women and girls,” she said.

“They are creating a situation where even women and girls are not in a position to decide for themselves whether to resist the Taliban in this regard, what types of risks they are willing to take with their safety because male family members are at risk, not them. ”

The rules could affect the Taliban’s quest for international recognition

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has condemned the directive, saying it “contradicts numerous assurances” that the Taliban will respect the human rights of Afghan women and girls over the past decade.

“These assurances were reiterated after the Taliban takeover in August 2021 that women will be given their rights, whether at work, education or society as a whole.”

It also complicates the Taliban’s efforts to seek international recognition – although it makes it difficult for the international community to work with the Taliban to alleviate the country’s humanitarian crisis.

The The UN estimates that 93 percent of all Afghans do not get enough food to eatand just over 8 million face starvation.

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