Afghanistan: Taliban forbid women to travel unaccompanied

The Taliban announced on Sunday that women wishing to travel long distances must be accompanied by a male relative, another sign of the toughening of the regime despite their initial promises.

The recommendation, published by the dreaded Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice and which had been circulating since Saturday on social networks, also calls on drivers to accept women in their vehicle only if they wear the « Islamic veil».

«Women traveling more than 45 miles (72 kilometers) cannot make the trip if they are not accompanied by a close family memberMinistry spokesman Sadeq Akif Muhajir told AFP on Sunday that the man must be a man.

Since coming to power in mid-August, the Taliban have imposed several restrictions on women and girls, especially related to education and work, but this is the first time that this ministry has attempted to regulate their movements in any way. reminiscent of their first reign, from 1996 to 2001.

The Taliban, who seek to be recognized by the international community and would like the return of crucial humanitarian aid for Afghanistan, had nevertheless announced that they would be more open than their predecessors. « This new order fundamentally goes (…) further in that direction which makes women prisoners», Commented on AFP’s Heather Barr, of the NGO Human Rights Watch. «We see more and more every day who the Taliban really are, what their views on women’s rights are and it’s really a very, very dark picture.», She added.

« Prisoners »

Other recommendations issued by the ministry include a ban on listening to music in vehicles. It was not immediately clear how well these recommendations would be implemented in the country but on Saturday, the Taliban had erected roadblocks in parts of the capital to inform motorists.

The Taliban also did not specify what they mean by « Islamic veil”, Whether it is a simple scarf, already worn by the majority of Afghan women, or a more covering veil. This directive comes a few weeks after the ministry asked Afghan televisions not to broadcast any more « soap operas and series in which women« Play, and to ensure that women journalists wear »the islamic veil » on the screen.

However, rare signs of goodwill have been seen. In several provinces, local authorities have agreed to reopen middle and high schools to girls, even though many of them across the country still cannot attend.

Earlier in December, a decree on behalf of the movement’s supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, called on the government to enforce women’s rights without, however, mentioning the right to education.

During the first Taliban regime, women could not leave their homes without being accompanied by a male chaperone or wearing the burqa. They were also not allowed to work or study. Respect for women’s rights is one of the conditions demanded by donors for the resumption of international aid to Afghanistan.

One of the poorest countries in the world, it is on the brink of economic collapse and the UN has warned of a « avalanche of hungerAhead, estimating that 22 of the estimated 40 million Afghans are at risk of food shortages « acute » this winter.


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