Afghan Taliban orders women to cover up from head to toe

KABUL, Afghanistan (AFP) – Afghan Taliban rulers on Saturday ordered all Afghan women to dress head-to-toe in public – a sharp, hard-line stance that underscored rights activists’ worst fears and was bound to further complicate Taliban dealings. With an international community that does not really trust him.

The decree states that women should leave the home only when necessary, and that male relatives will face punishment — from summons to court and escalation to court hearings and imprisonment — for violating the women’s dress code.

This is the latest in a series of repressive edicts issued by the Taliban leadership, not all of which have been implemented. Last month, for example, the Taliban banned women from traveling alone, but after a day of opposition, this has been silently ignored ever since.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said it was very concerned about what appeared to be an official directive to be implemented and implemented, adding that it would seek clarifications from the Taliban about the decision.

“This decision runs counter to the many assurances regarding the respect and protection of human rights for all Afghans, including the rights of women and girls, that Taliban representatives have made to the international community during discussions and negotiations over the past decade,” she said in a statement. statment.

The decree, which calls on women to show only their eyes and recommends that they wear a burqa from head to toe, raised similar restrictions on women during the previous Taliban rule between 1996 and 2001.

“We want our sisters to live in dignity and safety,” said Khaled Hanafi, acting minister in the Taliban’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue.

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The Taliban had previously decided not to reopen schools for girls above grade six, reneging on an earlier promise and choosing to mollify their hardline base at the cost of further alienating the international community. But this decree does not enjoy wide support among a leadership divided between pragmatists and hardliners.

This decision has derailed the Taliban’s efforts to win recognition from potential international donors at a time when the country is mired in a deepening humanitarian crisis.

Sher Muhammad, an official from the Ministry of Vice and Virtue said in a statement.

He said, “Women who are not old or young should cover their faces except for the eyes.” “Islamic principles and Islamic ideology are more important to us than anything else,” Hanafi said.

Afghan researcher Heather Barr of Human Rights Watch urged the international community to put concerted pressure on the Taliban.

“It is time for a serious and strategic response to the Taliban’s escalating assault on women’s rights,” she wrote on Twitter.

A US-led coalition toppled the Taliban in 2001 for harboring al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and returned to power after America’s chaotic departure last year.

The White House National Security Council condemned the Taliban decree on Saturday and urged them to reverse it immediately.

We are discussing this with other countries and partners. It said in a statement that the legitimacy and support the Taliban seek from the international community depends entirely on their behavior, specifically their ability to uphold stated commitments with actions.

Since taking power last August, the Taliban leadership has been squabbling among themselves as they struggle to transition from war to rule. It has pitted the hardliners against the most pragmatic among them.

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A spokeswoman for the Italian NGO Pangia, which has helped women for years in Afghanistan, said the new decision would be very difficult for them because they had been living in relative freedom until the Taliban seized power.

“In the past 20 years, they’ve had an awareness of human rights, and within a few months they’ve lost them,” Silvia Redigolo said by phone. “It’s exciting (now) to have a life that doesn’t exist,” she said.

What infuriates many Afghans is knowing that many Taliban members of the younger generation, such as Sirajuddin Haqqani, educate their girls in Pakistan, while in Afghanistan, women and girls have been targeted by repressive edicts since they took power.

Girls have been banned from going to school after grade six in most parts of the country since the return of the Taliban. Universities opened earlier this year in most parts of the country, but since taking power, Taliban ordinances have been erratic. While a few provinces continued to provide education for all, most provinces closed educational institutions for girls and women.

Hashemi said the religiously oriented Taliban administration fears that moving forward with enrolling girls beyond sixth grade might alienate their rural base.

In the capital, Kabul, private schools and universities operate without interruption.

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