Afghanistan, the Taliban orders hairdressers and beauty salons to close

By Chicago 4 Min Read

KABUL – «It seems that the Taliban have no political plan other than to focus on women’s bodies. They are trying to eliminate us at every level of public life.”

After universities, gyms, parks, now even hairdressers are forbidden for Afghans. In Kabul, for the moment, the decree does not yet seem to have had an effect. But in a month, starting on August 2nd, beauty salons will have to close. So the latest Taliban edict introduces this further discriminatory measure against women.

The spokesman of the ministry of the prevention of vice and the promotion of virtue, Mohammad Sidik Akif Mahajar, gave no details or reasons. He only confirmed the content of a letter that was circulating on social media. Beauty salons also remained open after the Taliban regained power two years ago following the withdrawal of US forces. But the shop windows had been covered up and the images of women defaced with black paint to hide their faces, in line with the Islamic tradition which forbids the depiction of living beings. Inside, however, some brave still had their hair cut.

«It is an economic damage as well as an injustice. With this decision, they are now depriving women of offering a service to another woman. When I heard the news, I was shocked.” Afghan women comment in low tones, asking to remain anonymous for fear of punishment and revenge. But anger prevails. «Sometimes the Taliban get on the buses that take us to work and warn us not to wear makeup» they say. Often the Afghans themselves do not know the content of the decrees or sometimes they are applied without any criteria. So it also becomes difficult for them to understand how to behave.

The ministry’s letter, dated June 24, puts on paper a verbal order from the supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhunzada in force for the capital Kabul and all provinces and gives salons across the country one month’s notice to terminate their activities. After that period, in addition to closing down, shop owners must submit a report on their closure. But the same letter does not explain the reasons for the ban which comes a few days after Akhunzada, on the occasion of the Eid holidays, said that her government had taken the necessary measures to improve the lives of women in Afghanistan. Which, however, is not known. All the more so if we consider that recently the latest provisions of the Kabul government have sanctioned the prohibition for women to enroll in universities, to work for NGOs, to attend gyms and parks. To such an extent that human rights experts are calling for this gender segregation to be punished as a crime against humanity.

The Taliban have also decreed that women should be dressed in a way that only their eyes are exposed and must be accompanied by a male relative if traveling more than 72 km. However, as is often the case with these diktats, it is not clear, for example, whether women are forbidden to drive. “They’ve never banned it, but if you sit even just in the front passenger seat, it’s more common for the car to be stopped,” says a young woman who lived alone in the capital two years ago. To understand now what will become of the dangerous habit of cutting your hair.

July 4, 2023 (change July 4, 2023 | 8:32 pm)

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