The Taliban is banning women’s beauty parlours in Afghanistan, says a government spokesman, in the latest curb on the rights and freedoms of women and girls in the country.
The government order, confirmed on Tuesday, followed the edicts barring women from education, public spaces and most forms of employment since the Taliban seized power in August 2021 as US and NATO forces pulled out.
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A spokesman for the Taliban-run Virtue and Vice Ministry, Mohammad Sidik Akif Mahajar, did not give details of the ban. He only confirmed the content of a letter circulating on social media.
The ministry’s letter, dated June 24, says it conveys a verbal order from the supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhunzada.
The ban targets the capital, Kabul, and all provinces, and gives parlours across the country a month’s notice to wind down their businesses. After that period, they must close and submit a report about their closure.
The letter does not give reasons for the ban. It comes days after Akhunzada claimed that his government had taken the necessary steps for the betterment of women’s lives in Afghanistan.
Mohammad Sadeq Akif Muhajir, spokesman for the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, would not say why the new order had been given.
“Once they are closed then we will share the reason with the media,” he told the AFP news agency.
Muhajir said the businesses have been given time to close their affairs so they could use up their stock without incurring losses. A copy of the order seen by AFP said it was “based on verbal instruction from the supreme leader”.
Despite initial promises of a more moderate rule than during their previous stint in power in the 1990s, the Taliban has imposed harsh measures. It has barred women from public spaces, like parks and gyms, and cracked down on media freedoms.
Women have also mostly been barred from working for the United Nations or NGOs, and thousands have been sacked from government jobs or are being paid to stay at home.
The measures have triggered a fierce international uproar, increasing the country’s isolation at a time when its economy has collapsed – and have worsened a humanitarian crisis.