The Taliban has ordered all women to cover their faces in public in Afghanistan, the latest restriction on women’s freedom imposed by the regime since regaining control of the country last year.
The Taliban had already removed women’s right to travel long distances alone, work in most professions, and receive a high school education, contradicting the promises made when they regained power that they would respect such rights.
A spokesman for the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice read the decree, which holds male relatives responsible for non-compliance and threatens them with fines and imprisonment.
“For all dignified Afghan women wearing hijab is necessary and the best hijab is chadori [the burqa], which is part of our tradition and is respectful,” Ministry official Shir Mohammad told a news conference in Kabul. “Those women who are not too old or young must cover their face, except the eyes.”
The burqa, synonymous with the Taliban’s previous rule, completely covers the face, only allowing women to see through a small grille. The only permissible alternative under the decree would be the niqab, which covers the face but not the eyes.
The latest escalation of restrictions on women was met with widespread condemnation, and further isolates a regime that took power claiming a desire to work with the international community. Afghanistan is struggling with an economic crisis and food shortages, yet the Taliban seems disinterested in building bridges with the countries capable of assisting it.