The Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and Propagation of Virtue in Afghanistan has issued an order to cease all operations of beauty salons within a month, amplifying concerns about the diminishing rights and freedoms of women in the country.
Over the past year, secondary institutions for girls have beeb forcefully shut down, women barred from attending universities, and numerous female aid workers have been forbidden from conducting vital humanitarian work. Adding to these restrictions, women have also been denied access to public bathhouses, gymnasiums, and parks, further shrinking their opportunities for social engagement and physical activities.
Since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, beauty salons emerged as crucial establishments providing employment opportunities for women and services to customers. Despite the challenges faced by Afghan women, these salons have managed to operate, serving as both economic engines and safe spaces for women to socialize. However, the recent order to close down beauty salons signifies a significant setback, eliminating an essential avenue for female empowerment and connection.
The closure of beauty salons is widely regarded as a loss for Afghan women who relied on these spaces for social interactions and conversations. These establishments not only provided employment but also served as vital community hubs where women could gather, share experiences, and support one another. The absence of such safe spaces poses further limitations on women’s ability to connect, leaving them increasingly isolated and stifled within their communities.
Unsurprisingly, the escalating restrictions imposed by the Taliban on women have drawn strong condemnation from Western governments and international organizations. The international community has expressed deep concern over the erosion of women’s rights in Afghanistan, calling for the preservation of the progress made over the past two decades.
However, the Taliban administration maintains that its actions align with its interpretation of Islamic law and Afghan customs, asserting that women’s rights are being respected. This claim has been met with skepticism, as the recent spate of restrictions suggests a clear regression from the gains achieved in terms of gender equality and women’s empowerment.