In Afghanistan, the Taliban forbid women to travel alone


This is yet another sign of the toughening of the Taliban regime despite their initial promises. The Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice issued a recommendation on Sunday, December 26, stating that women wishing to travel long distances should be accompanied by a male relative of their close family. She also calls on drivers to accept women in their vehicles only if they are wearing the  » Islamic veil « .

« Women traveling more than 45 miles [72 kilomètres] cannot make the trip if they are not accompanied by a close family member ”, Sadeq Akif Muhajir, a spokesman for the ministry, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the companion must be a man.

This directive comes a few weeks after the ministry asked Afghan televisions not to broadcast any more « Soap operas and series with rose water in which women » play, and ensure that women journalists wear « The Islamic veil » on the screen. The Taliban do 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.

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Multiplication of restrictions

“This new order fundamentally goes (…) further in this direction which makes women prisoners ”, commented by Heather Barr, of the NGO Human Rights Watch, on behalf of the AFP. « We see more and more every day who the Taliban really are, what their views on women’s rights are, and it is really a very, very dark picture », she added.

Since coming to power in August, they have imposed various restrictions on women and girls, despite initial promises that their regime would be less strict than during their first reign (1996-2001). In several provinces, local authorities have agreed to reopen schools for girls, although many of them across the country still cannot attend.

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During their first reign, the Taliban made it compulsory for women to wear the burqa. They could only leave their homes when accompanied by a man and were not allowed to work and study.

Against the « co-education » of boys and girls

Earlier in December, a decree on behalf of the supreme leader of the movement called on the government to enforce women’s rights, but the decree did not mention the right to education. On Sunday, Afghan Minister of Higher Education Abdul Baqi Haqqani asserted that the « Islamic emirate of Afghanistan » – a name used by the Taliban to refer to their government – was not « Against the education of women but against co-education » boys and girls together. « We are working to build an Islamic environment in which women can study (…). It could take some time ”he told reporters without delay.

Activists hope that the Taliban’s efforts to gain recognition by the international community and once again receive much-needed aid in the country – which is one of the world’s poorest – will cause them to make concessions.

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On Saturday, the Taliban dissolved Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), created under the previous regime and responsible for organizing the elections. In addition to the IEC, they also ordered this week the dissolution of the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) and two ministries, one for peace and one for parliamentary affairs. “Right now, we don’t need these two ministries and these commissions to exist and operate. If the need arises, the Islamic Emirate could restore them ”, Bilal Karim, a deputy spokesman for the Taliban, told AFP.

The World with AFP

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