Taliban leaders order women to wear burkas in public, officials say

Afghan Taliban leaders have ordered all Afghan women to wear full-covering burkas in public, officials said.

The decision evokes similar restrictions imposed on women during the previous hardline Taliban rule between 1996 and 2001.

“We want our sisters to live in dignity and security,” said Khalid Hanafi, acting minister of the Taliban’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue.

The Taliban had previously decided not to reopen schools to girls beyond sixth grade (about 11 years old), reneging on an earlier promise and opting to appease their hardline base at the expense of further alienation from the international community. .

The move has disrupted Taliban efforts to win recognition from potential international donors at a time when the country is mired in a deepening humanitarian crisis.

The international community has urged Taliban leaders to reopen schools.

Shir Mohammad, an official with the Ministry of Vice and Virtue, said, “For all worthy Afghan women, wearing the hajib is necessary and the best hajib is chadori. [the head-to-toe burka] who is part of our tradition and who is respectful.

“Those women who are not too old or too young must cover their faces except their eyes.”

The decree adds that if women do not have important work to do outside, it is better for them to stay at home.

“Islamic principles and Islamic ideology are more important to us than anything else,” Hanafi said.

Coordinated pressure

Heather Barr, senior Afghanistan researcher at Human Rights Watch, urged the international community to exert coordinated pressure on the Taliban.

“[It is] it is high time for a serious and strategic response to the Taliban’s escalating attacks on women’s rights,” she wrote on Twitter.

The Taliban were ousted in 2001 by a US-led coalition for harboring al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, but returned to power after a chaotic US exit last year.

Since taking power last August, the Taliban leaders have been internally squabbled as they struggle to transition from a war footing to a government. This turmoil has pitted the hardliners against the more pragmatic ones.

Many Afghans are infuriated to know that many younger generation Taliban like Sirajuddin Haqqani are educating their daughters in Pakistan, while in Afghanistan women and girls have been the target of their repressive edicts since coming to power.

Universities opened earlier this year in much of the country, but since coming to power Taliban edicts have been erratic.

While a handful of provinces continued to provide education for all, most provinces closed educational institutions for girls and women.

The religiously motivated Taliban administration fears that enrolling girls beyond grade six will alienate their rural base.

In the capital of Kabul, private schools and universities operated without interruption. – Sound system

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