A dozen women demonstrated on Tuesday, most with their faces uncovered, in the streets of Kabul (Afghanistan) against the full veil. They were protesting against the decision of the Taliban to make this clothing compulsory in public for women.

This Saturday, the government issued a decree ordering women to cover their bodies and faces in public. The group of protesters managed to march nearly 200m in the center of the capital before being peacefully arrested by Taliban fighters. The latter also ordered the press to leave the premises.

Wear the burqa and stay at home

Following the decree, the Taliban clarified that their preference was for the burqa, this mesh veil at eye level, in the name of “tradition”. However, they specified that other types of veil revealing the eyes would be tolerated. They also felt that unless the women had a pressing reason to go out, it was “better for them to stay at home”.

“We want to live like human beings, not like animals held captive in the corner of a house,” said one of the protesters publicly. In Kabul, the decree was not immediately followed by effects, many women continuing to walk the streets with their faces uncovered, or hiding them with a mask.

Demonstrations severely repressed

These new restrictions, denounced in particular by the UN, confirm the radicalization of the Taliban despite an alleged opening announced when they took power. They quickly reneged on their commitments, largely excluding women from public jobs, denying them access to secondary school and restricting their right to travel alone.

For twenty years, Afghan women had acquired new freedoms, returning to school, applying for jobs in all sectors of activity despite a country that remained conservative. After the Taliban returned to power in August, women first tried to assert their rights by protesting. The movement was fiercely repressed, with many activists being arrested and some detained.


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