Wed, 31 May 2023

The Taliban earlier this month issued a decree urging women to stay home and ordering those who have to go out to cover their faces with a burqa. But a few brave Afghan women have vowed to defy the restrictive edict.

A day after the Taliban issued a decree on May 7 ordering women to fully cover their faces in public - ideally with the burqa - a group of women took to the streets of Kabul to protest the edict.

One of the women at the protest, who declined to be identified for security reasons, said the Taliban did not let them continue the demonstration.

"They insult us. We can't even reply because they have guns and their fingers are always on the trigger. They don't care that we are women, they don't value women. I am not just defending my own rights, but the rights of all women in Afghanistan," she said.

The decree from Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada also said that if women had no important work outside then it was "better they stay at home", and outlined punishments for their male guardians if they did not comply with the new dress code.

It was a major blow for women's rights in Afghanistan, following two decades of relative freedom while US-led troops were stationed in the country.

"When you wear this, you can't even breathe. Even if they threaten to hang me, I will not wear the burqa," said another woman.

The decree was issued by the ministry for the promotion of virtue and suppression of vice, a department opened after the August 2021 Taliban takeover of Afghanistan following a chaotic US military exit. On the exterior walls of the ministry, a banner urges Afghan women to wear the proper Islamic veil.

"The proper Islamic dress covers from head to toe, including the face. This order does not come from the Islamic Emirate, but from Allah and the Koran. The implementation of the decree started the day we announced it. For now, we are explaining things and acting gently towards our sisters," said Mohammad Akif Muhajir, a ministry spokesman.

In some parts of Kabul, there are still women who do not cover their faces in public. But since the decree was issued, their numbers are decreasing.

Click on the video player to watch the full report.

Originally published on France24

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