search

Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers order all women to cover head-to-toe in public

Decree, which calls for women to only show eyes and recommends wearing the head-to-toe burqa, confirms rights activists’ worst fears following group’s return to power

  • An Afghan woman waits to receives food rations distributed by a Saudi humanitarian aid group, in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday, April 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
    An Afghan woman waits to receives food rations distributed by a Saudi humanitarian aid group, in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday, April 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
  • Afghan women walk through the old market as a Taliban fighter stands guard, in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, May 3, 2022. Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers on Saturday, May 7,  ordered all Afghan women to wear head-to-toe clothing in public.(AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
    Afghan women walk through the old market as a Taliban fighter stands guard, in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, May 3, 2022. Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers on Saturday, May 7, ordered all Afghan women to wear head-to-toe clothing in public.(AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
  • Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid speaks during a ceremony to announce some of the harshest restrictions on Afghanistan's women since the Taliban seized power, ordering them to cover fully in public, ideally with the traditional burqa. (Ahmad SAHEL ARMAN / AFP)
    Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid speaks during a ceremony to announce some of the harshest restrictions on Afghanistan's women since the Taliban seized power, ordering them to cover fully in public, ideally with the traditional burqa. (Ahmad SAHEL ARMAN / AFP)
  • An Afghan woman walks through the old market as a Taliban fighter stands guard, in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan, May 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
    An Afghan woman walks through the old market as a Taliban fighter stands guard, in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan, May 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers on Saturday ordered all Afghan women to wear head-to-toe clothing in public, a sharp hard-line pivot that confirmed the worst fears of rights activists and was bound to further complicate Taliban dealings with an already distrustful international community.

The decree, which calls for women to only show their eyes and recommends they wear the head-to-toe burqa, evoked similar restrictions on women during the Taliban’s previous rule between 1996 and 2001.

“We want our sisters to live with dignity and safety,” said Khalid Hanafi, acting minister for the Taliban’s vice and virtue ministry.

The Taliban previously decided against reopening schools to girls above grade 6, reneging on an earlier promise and opting to appease their hard-line base at the expense of further alienating the international community.

That decision disrupted efforts by the Taliban to win recognition from potential international donors at a time when the country is mired in a worsening humanitarian crisis.

“For all dignified Afghan women wearing Hijab is necessary and the best Hijab is chadori (the head-to-toe burqa) which is part of our tradition and is respectful,” said Shir Mohammad, an official from the vice and virtue ministry in a statement.

An Afghan woman walks through the old market as a Taliban fighter stands guard, in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan, on May 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

“Those women who are not too old or young must cover their face, except the eyes,” he said.

The decree added that if women had no important work outside it is better for them to stay at home.

“Islamic principles and Islamic ideology are more important to us than anything else,” Hanafi said.

The Taliban were ousted in 2001 by a US-led coalition for harboring al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and returned to power after America’s chaotic departure last year.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid speaks during a ceremony to announce some of the harshest restrictions on Afghanistan’s women since the Taliban seized power, ordering them to cover fully in public, ideally with the traditional burqa. (Ahmad SAHEL ARMAN / AFP)

Since taking power last August, the Taliban leadership has been squabbling among themselves as they struggle to transition from war to governing.

Infuriating many Afghans is the knowledge that many of the Taliban of the younger generation, like Sirajuddin Haqqani, are educating their girls in Pakistan, while in Afghanistan, women and girls have been targeted by their repressive edicts since taking power.

Afghan women walk through the old market as a Taliban fighter stands guard, in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, May 3, 2022. Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers on Saturday, May 7, ordered all Afghan women to wear head-to-toe clothing in public.(AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Girls have been banned from school beyond grade 6 in most of the country since the Taliban’s return. Universities opened earlier this year in much of the country, but since taking power the Taliban edicts have been erratic. While a handful of provinces continued to provide education to all, most provinces closed educational institutions for girls and women.

The religiously driven Taliban administration fears that going forward with enrolling girls beyond the sixth grade could alienate their rural base, Hashmi said.

In the capital of Kabul, private schools and universities have operated uninterrupted.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed