The Taliban has barred girls from secondary school, pushed women out of many jobs and ordered them to cover up outside
The Taliban has barred girls from secondary school, pushed women out of many jobs and ordered them to cover up outside AFP News

The Taliban government in Afghanistan has now decided to shut down women's beauty salons in the country as it gradually puts more restrictions on women.

All beauty salons are to be closed within a month, according to a spokesperson for the Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and Propagation of Virtue. The letter issued by the ministry did not give any reasons for the ban.

"All beauty salons operated by women in Kabul and other provinces should be banned immediately and follow our order," read an excerpt from the statement. "Violators will face legal action," it warned.

The move is the latest curb on Afghan women's movement and freedom in the country. It comes days after the Taliban's supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, claimed that the group has restored the rights of women.

In a statement issued ahead of the Eid al-Adha holiday last week, Akhundzada said that women's Shariah rights have been protected by the regime.

Women in Afghanistan cannot even attend schools and colleges, but the Taliban believe that they are living "free and dignified" lives. He added that the "negative aspects of the past 20-year occupation" by the US will soon come to an end.

"The status of women as a free and dignified human being has been restored and all institutions have been obliged to help women in securing marriage, inheritance and other rights," he added.

Akhundzada further claimed that women who are not even allowed to board a flight without a male companion are being saved from "traditional oppressions." Akhundzada also asked other countries to stop meddling in Afghanistan's internal affairs, adding that the Taliban government wants good relations with the world.

He even said that the Afghan government has taken several steps to provide women with a "comfortable and prosperous life according to Islamic Sharia."

The Taliban are essentially taking Afghanistan back to the 1990s. Beauty salons were shut down during the Taliban's rule between 1996 and 2001. However, they were reopened after the US-led takeover of Afghanistan in 2001.

Women's lives had considerably improved during that period, as they could attend schools and colleges, travel without a male companion, and speak freely. But things have taken a horrible turn, especially for women, since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in 2021.

The Taliban has banned girls from attending senior secondary and higher secondary schools. Women have also been prohibited from attending classes at universities. Around eight million girls have lost their rights to education. The regime has also banned women from working in government and private offices.

Women face harsh punishment if they violate any of the restrictions imposed by the Taliban. Women have also been banned from visiting parks, gyms, and public baths. They have also reportedly banned the sale of contraceptives in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif. This step could lead to an increase in maternal mortality rates and unwanted pregnancies.

The group had initially claimed that they would adopt a moderate approach this time, but that did not happen. Human rights experts warned that there could be systematic "gender apartheid" and "gender persecution" in Afghanistan.

The country is in the middle of the world's largest humanitarian crisis. Instead of taking steps to take the country forward, the Taliban are focused on ensuring that women do not get space to even breathe.

Despite promising a softer approach under its rule this time, the Taliban government has been treating Afghan citizens with immense cruelty. The government has again started amputating, lashing, and executing people for petty crimes such as theft and robbery.

Human rights activists, journalists, and Afghan citizens who managed to flee the country after the Taliban's takeover have been urging the world to come to their aid, but to no avail.