The Taliban announced on Saturday that women must now cover their bodies and faces fully in public and avoid leaving their homes. The government issued a decree on Saturday, endorsed by the Supreme Leader of the Taliban and Afghanistan, Hibatullah Akhundzada, making it compulsory for women to wear the full veil in public.
The Taliban have clarified that their preference was for the burqa, this integral veil most often blue and meshed at eye level, but that other types of veil revealing only 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”.
Sunday, this decree did not seem immediately followed by effect in Kabul, many women continuing to walk in the streets of the capital without masking their face. The Taliban have justified the fact that women have to hide their faces when they are in the company of a man not belonging to their immediate family by the need to avoid any “provocation”, in accordance with their ultra-rigorous interpretation Sharia, Islamic law.
These new restrictions, denounced in particular by the UN and the United States, confirm the radicalization of the Taliban, who had initially tried to show a more open face than during their previous passage to power between 1996 and 2001. They then deprived the women of almost all their rights, in particular imposing on them the wearing of the burqa. But the Islamists quickly reneged on their commitments, largely excluding women from public employment, denying them access to secondary school or even restricting their right to move.
Heads of families responsible for enforcing the rules
To implement their latest decree, the Taliban took care not to punish the women themselves, so as not to further shock the international community, but to place the burden of this social control on their families.
The heads of families who do not enforce the wearing of the full veil first incur three days in prison, then higher penalties. Over the past two decades, Afghan women had acquired new freedoms, returning to school or applying for jobs in all sectors of activity, even if the country remained socially conservative.