Taliban Imposes Burqa Requirement on Women
This comes as no surprise at all to anyone paying attention to the plight of women in Afghanistan. I wrote in August of last year that Taliban 2.0 was the same as Taliban 1.0 from the perspective of women and their rights, and I was correct. On May 7, the Taliban decreed that women must cover their faces in public.
Taliban has also enforced mahram, the requirement that a woman be accompanied by a close male relative anywhere she goes in public. Since December of 2021, women have been forbidden by formal law to travel without a close male relative accompanying them. According to my clients, this was also the case even before the law went into effect. In November of 2021, all television broadcasts depicting women were banned. In March of 2022, girls were banned from attending high schools, despite numerous and widely heralded claims that girls would be permitted to continue their education. Any female considered to be of marriageable age is now in an internal prison, enforced by her own family, if she has one. If she doesn't have a family, she will effectively be unable to feed herself and her children, because she cannot legally go out and interact with any male not her relative.
With respect to the new burqa requirement, CNN reports that a first infraction will result in a visit from the Taliban to the woman's male relatives who will face jail time. This further infantilizes women, and places them in increasing jeopardy of domestic violence perpetrated by male relatives forced to be their female relatives' jailer, whether they care to or not,
These restrictions on the lives and human rights and freedoms of half the population of the country has been largely ignored by the media and international actors, who seem content to play along with the idea that they must comply with Taliban in order to operate in Afghanistan. And that women -- all women -- are an acceptable loss towards accomplishing that.
Again, note the life threatening implications of these restrictions for women without mahram. Women without male relatives are literally starving. They are unable to work, unable even to retrieve money sent from external sources (like myself, Refugee Projects, and the hundreds of people I've been working with to assist Afghans). Women have been struggling for daily survival since the Taliban became the governing state actors of the country in August of 2021.
While enthusiastic media report about Taliban men undertaking "human rights training" which amounts to little more than men training other men that carrying their weapons into hospitals is not ideal under humanitarian law, the women of the country are increasingly oppressed and dying. This is the story. This is what we must work on and pay attention to, even if it is not convenient.