HomeAfghan Women Crushed as Taliban Orders to Wear Head-to-Toe Burqa in Public

Afghan Women Crushed as Taliban Orders to Wear Head-to-Toe Burqa in Public

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This is one of the worst restrictions on Afghan women since the Taliban took power last year, and it is part of a trend of tightening restrictions on women that has alarmed the international community and many Afghans.

On Saturday, the Afghan government announced a directive signed by Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhunzad, which stated that women should cover their entire bodies as a sign of respect and deference.

“They should wear a chadori (head-to-toe burqa) as it is traditional and respectful,” read the statement.

At a press conference, a spokesman for the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice read the decree from Akhunzada, which stated that a woman’s father or closest male relative would be visited and eventually imprisoned or fired from government jobs if she did not cover her face when she was outside the home.

The burqa, which became a global icon of the Taliban’s previous hardline government from 1996 to 2001, is the best facial covering, according to the spokesman. The majority of Afghan women wear a headscarf, however many in urban areas, such as Kabul, do not.

Since retaking power in Afghanistan, the Taliban have reinstated extreme restrictions on freedoms and movements, notably on women, that were in place under their previous rule in the 1990s.

Taliban commanders, particularly those from the Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, have issued a slew of new restrictions in recent months, despite mounting criticism and international pressure.

Earlier in December, the ministry, which replaced the Afghan Ministry of Women Affairs, set limitations on women traveling more than 72 kilometers (45 miles) without a close male relative.

This limitation was later extended to include international travel, and some solitary female travelers were reportedly denied boarding. Similar bans have been implemented at various healthcare facilities around the country, prohibiting women from seeking medical attention without the presence of a mahram (male chaperone).

In January, a group of 36 United Nations human rights experts stated that Taliban commanders in Afghanistan are institutionalizing widespread and systemic discrimination and brutality against women and girls.

“We are concerned about the continuous and systematic efforts to exclude women from the social, economic, and political spheres across the country,” the agency said in a statement.

The international community was outraged when the group abruptly closed girls’ high schools on the morning they were scheduled to open in March, prompting the US to postpone planned meetings on easing the country’s financial difficulties.

More than half of the population is hungry, and the country is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. Due to sanctions and exclusion from international financial institutions, the Taliban has struggled to restore the aid-dependent economy, which is in freefall.

Since the Taliban took over in August, the US and other countries have halted development funds and imposed harsh banking restrictions, plunging the country into economic devastation.

Image Credit: Getty

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