Taliban orders head to toe coverings for Afghan women in public
The Taliban’s treatment of women has been a key point of contention as the group has pushed for formal international recognition and increased aid money to address the country’s spiraling economic crisis. When asked for greater engagement with the Taliban, the international community has repeatedly requested the group demonstrate greater respect for women’s rights, among other asks.
Women may choose to wear the head to toe covering called a burqa, or a cloth veil covering their face paired with a headscarf and long robe called an abaya, said Muhajir, the ministry of virtue and prevention of vice spokesman.
Women who appear in public without following the new guidelines on dress will first be issued warnings, the ministry’s announcement stated. If women continue to disregard the ruling, their homes will be identified and their male relatives will be summoned for punishment that could include prison time, the Taliban said at a news conference Saturday.
The ministry called on the media and mosques to encourage women to comply. Muhajir said “Muslim women are not worried,” about the new ruling on dress. he said, Taliban leadership has spent recent months traveling the country convincing Afghans at the local level that such a law is in line with Islamic teachings.
While not legally required under the previous government, most Afghan women traditionally cover their hair in public. When the Taliban controlled Afghanistan in the 1990s, all women were required to wear head-to-toe coverings. But after the group was ousted, face coverings became less common in urban parts of the country.
Since the Taliban takeover in August, the group has imprisoned dozens of women’s rights activists, restricted access to education for women and girls, and blocked women from international travel without a male guardian. Many women have also been barred from the workplace under Taliban rule due to guidelines forbidding men and women to work in proximity.
Haq Nawaz Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan contributed to this report.