- Taliban have prohibited women from returning to work, especially those in public-sector roles.
- Womenâs rights were severely retrenched when the Taliban were in power in the 1990s.
- Afghan women travelling over 45 miles need to be accompanied by a close male relative: Taliban
On Sunday, the Afghanistan Taliban authorities have issued orders forbidding long-distance travel for women unless otherwise escorted by a male relative. The Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice issued guidance directing all vehicle owners to provide rides to only those women who are wearing hijabs. This guidance has drawn massive criticism from womenâs rights activists.
Women travelling over 72 kilometres (45 miles) shall be permitted to ride only if a close family member (male) accompanies them, as specified by ministry spokesperson Sadeq Akif Muhajir. This move comes weeks after the Taliban restrained women in public-sector roles from returning to work following their August 15th seizure of power.
The ministry earlier had asked Afghanistan television channels to stop broadcasting dramas and soap operas presenting women actors. It also mandated hijab for women journalists while presenting. The ministry also directed people to stop playing music in their vehicles. It is however unclear as to how the Taliban interpret the hijab which can range from covering of hair to face veil or full-body covering.
Ever since the Afghans rose to power, they have inflicted various restrictions on women and girls regardless of pledging a softer rule compared with their 1990 power stint. The local Taliban authorities have been impelled to reopen schools in many provinces but a majority of the girls to date remain cut off from primary education.
A command was issued by the Islamist group earlier this month in the name of their supreme leader directing the government to enforce women rights. There was no mention of girlsâ access to education in the decree.
Activists are hopeful that Taliabnâs struggle to gain international recognition and receive aid flow into one of the poorest countries in the world will compel them to make concessions to women. The key global donors have cited respect for womenâs rights as mandatory for the restoration of aid. The guidance issued by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice was blasted by the Human Rights Watch. Heathe Barr, the groupâs associate director of womenâs rights mentions that the order issued by the ministry is advancing in the direction of making women prisoners. Adding to this, Barr said that the guidance issued shuts down all opportunities hindering free movement for women unless chaperoned by men, to do business in addition to obstructing their ability to flee if facing violence at home.