The Taliban took a serious step in restricting women’s freedoms by ordering this Saturday that Afghan women wear a veil in public that covers them from head to toe, preferably a burqa, which only leaves a mesh at eye level. .

In a decree published on Saturday, Hibatullah Akhundzada, the supreme head of the Taliban and of Afghanistan, ordered women to fully cover their bodies and faces in public, estimating that the burqa, which only leaves a mesh at eye level , Is the best option.

"They will have to wear a chador [un término que también se usa para designar al burka] because it is traditional and respectful"he indicated.

"Women who are neither too young nor too old will have to cover their face when in front of a man who is not a member of their family"to avoid provocation, specify the text.

If you don’t have something important to do outside, it’s "better for them to stay at home"Add.

The decree also details the punishments to which family leaders who do not enforce the use of the full veil are exposed. The first two fouls will merit a warning. On the third, they will go to jail for three days and if they reoffend, they will be brought before a judge.

In addition, if a government official does not wear this type of veil, she will be immediately fired.

– "Erosion" of progress
Faced with the new restrictions, the United States expressed its concern.

"We are extremely concerned that the rights and progress that Afghan women and girls have made and enjoyed over the last 20 years are being eroded."said a spokesman for the US State Department.

Washington and its international partners, he noted, are concerned "deeply the recent steps taken by the Taliban "in relation to women and girls, including restrictions on education and travel".

Since the return to power of the Islamist group, in mid-August, the feared Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice had published several slogans on how women should dress. But it is the first national decree on the subject.

Until now, the Taliban had required women to wear at least a hijab, a veil that covers the head but leaves the face uncovered, while recommending the use of a burqa.

"Islam has never recommended the chador"a women’s rights activist who is still living in Afghanistan told AFP.

"The Taliban, instead of advancing, are going backwards. They behave as during their first government, they are the same as 20 years ago"added this woman, asking that her name not be disclosed.

The Taliban imposed the use of the burqa during their first regime, between 1996 and 2001, during which they carried out a strong repression against the rights of women, in accordance with their rigorous interpretation of the "sharia"Islamic law.

At the time, officers from the Ministry of the Promotion of Virtue flogged women caught not wearing a burqa, a dress that has continued to be worn for many years in more traditional and rural Afghan regions.

– Unkept promises
"We are in a broken nation, which is attacked in a way that we cannot understand. As a people, we are crushed"tweeted Muska Dastageer, a former professor at the American University of Afghanistan, now living abroad.

Having returned to power in mid-August, at the end of two decades of military presence by the United States and its allies in the country, the Taliban promised to establish a more tolerant and flexible regime.

But they were quickly cracking down on women.

In March, after months of promising to allow education for girls, the Taliban ordered the closure of girls’ secondary schools, just hours after opening their doors.

An unexpected change of attitude that they justified by arguing that the education of girls should be done in compliance with the "sharia".

The Taliban also enforced separation between men and women in Kabul’s public parks, with visiting days allocated to each sex.

Also in March, Islamists ordered airlines in Afghanistan to prevent women from taking flights unless accompanied by a male relative.

After the arrival of the Taliban, women wanted to preserve their rights by demonstrating in Kabul and other large cities. But their protests were violently suppressed and many Afghan women were even detained for weeks.

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