Taliban prescribes women burqa in public

Image by Amber ClayTaliban chief Hibatullah Achundsada has mandated that women in Afghanistan wear a burqa in public. They should wear the full-body covering "as it is traditional and respectful," Achundsada said in a decree Saturday.

"Those women who are not too old or too young must cover their faces, except for the eyes, according to Sharia guidelines," the decree said. This was to avoid "provocation" in encounters with men who are not close relatives. Women should also "better stay at home" unless they have an important matter to attend to outside the home.

A burqa also covers the wearer's eyes with a kind of grid made of fabric. It is the strictest restriction yet on the lives of Afghan women since the Taliban retook power last August.

The burqa was already compulsory for women during the Islamists' first rule. Since the takeover in August, wearing the burqa had only been recommended. The hijab, a headscarf that leaves the face uncovered, was already mandatory. However, many women in the deeply conservative and patriarchal country were already wearing the full-body covering, especially in rural areas.

The dreaded Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice had issued several "guidelines" for women's dress in recent months. Saturday's decree was the first nationwide order of its kind.

At the time, the Taliban had promised a moderate government. In recent months, however, numerous freedoms of women have been curtailed.

Secondary schools for girls were initially opened and then closed again after a few hours. Tens of thousands of women who worked for the government lost their jobs. Women are also now only allowed to leave Afghanistan if accompanied by a male relative. They were also ordered to visit parks in the Afghan capital on different days than men. Afghan women had sporadically demonstrated against the restrictions. However, the Taliban took strict action against the unauthorized rallies and arrested several female initiators.



Image by Amber Clay

 


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