Taliban ban women from unaccompanied travel

Week after week, Afghan women see their freedoms curtailed despite initial promises from the Taliban. This Sunday, the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice announced that women wishing to travel long distances must be accompanied by a man from their close family. The recommendation also calls on drivers to accept women in their vehicles 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 member, » ministry spokesman Sadeq Akif Muhajir said, adding that the accompanying person had to be a man. This directive comes a few weeks after the ministry’s request to Afghan televisions to stop broadcasting « soap operas and series in which women » play, and to ensure that women journalists wear « the Islamic veil » on the screen.

Still no right to education for girls

The Taliban do not specify what they mean by « Islamic veil », whether it is a simple headscarf, already worn by the majority of Afghan women, or a more covering veil. 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).

Earlier in December, a decree in the name 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. In several provinces, local authorities have agreed to reopen schools for girls, although many of them across the country still cannot attend. Many Afghans now hope that the Taliban’s efforts to gain international recognition and once again receive much-needed aid in the country will lead them to make concessions.

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