Widespread Condemnation for Taliban Decree that Women Cover Face in Public

The Taliban issued another decree imposing even more restrictions on women in Afghanistan. The latest restriction has criminalized women’s clothing. 

The Taliban has always imposed restrictions to govern the bodies of Afghan women, experts say. But this decree is the first time that criminal punishment has been assigned for anyone who violates the dress code implemented for women. 

The Taliban reinstated the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. The newly reignited ministry made an announcement over the weekend that the country now requires all “respectable Afghan women” to wear a hijab, or a headscarf. 

The ministry said in a statement that the chadori is the best hijab of choice. A chadori is the blue-colored Afghan burqa, or a full-body veil. The statement said that a hijab is also acceptable, which is a long black veil that covers women from head to toe. 

Punishment was specified and detailed for anyone who does not wear the designated clothing. Male guardians of the offending women will be given a warning. Repeated offenders will result in imprisonment of the male guardian. If they are found guilty of repeated offenses again, they will be sent to the court for additional punishment. 

The decree is the latest in decrees that restrict women’s freedoms in Afghanistan ever since the Taliban seized power in the summer of last year. 

The news received immediate and widespread condemnation, and outrage from women and activists in Afghanistan and around the world. 

Women’s rights activists have said that this rule makes them a “third class citizen,” and also that the Taliban has reduced women to an object being sexualized. Activists have said that this is a blatant violation of the right to freedom of choice and movement.

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