The Taliban took an important step in restricting women’s freedoms by ordering, this Saturday (7), that Afghan women wear a head-to-toe veil in public, preferably a burqa, a symbol of oppression in the country.
In a decree published on Saturday, Hibatullah Akhundzada, the supreme chief of the Taliban and Afghanistan, ordered women to completely cover their bodies and faces in public, saying the burqa is the best option.
“You will have to use a chador [termo usado para a burca] because it is traditional and respectful”, he orders.
“Women who are neither too young nor too old will have to cover their faces when they are in front of a man who is not a member of their family”, to avoid provocation, specifies the text. If you don’t have something important to do outside, it’s “better to stay indoors,” she adds.
Punishment and more restrictions
The decree also details the punishments to which heads of families who do not impose the use of the full veil are exposed.
Since the Islamic fundamentalist group’s return to power in mid-August, the feared Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has issued several orders on how women should dress. But this is the first national decree on the subject.
Until now, the Taliban required women to wear at least a hijab, a veil that covers the head but leaves the face uncovered, while recommending the wearing of the burqa.
The Taliban imposed the use of the burqa during its first regime, between 1996 and 2001, during which it carried out a strong repression of women’s rights, in accordance with its strict interpretation of “sharia”, the Islamic law.
At the time, agents from the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue flogged women caught without the burqa.
Measures against women
Back in power in August, at the end of two decades of US and allied military presence in the country, the Taliban vowed to establish a more tolerant and flexible regime.
But it quickly took action against women, such as excluding them from government jobs or banning them from traveling alone, freedoms they had won over the past 20 years and quickly disappeared.
In March, after months of promising that it would allow education for girls, the Taliban ordered all girls’ high schools to close within hours of opening their doors.
This unexpected change in attitude, which he justified by arguing that girls’ education should be done in accordance with sharia law, scandalized the international community.
The Taliban also enforced separation between men and women in Kabul’s public parks, with visiting days allocated to each sex.
Also in March, Islamists ordered airlines in Afghanistan to bar women from flying unless accompanied by a male relative.
Days later, members of the Taliban in Herat, Afghanistan’s most progressive city, asked driving school instructors not to issue licenses to women, who traditionally drive in the country’s big cities.
After the Taliban arrived, women tried to preserve their rights by demonstrating in Kabul and other major cities. But their protests were violently suppressed and many Afghan women were detained for weeks.