Taliban Ban Women From Using Male Doctors

A province in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan has reportedly implemented a new measure banning women from seeing male doctors.

The Directorate of Public Affairs and Hearing of Taliban Complaints in the Balkh province announced the new measure, according to reports from the Pakistani-based publication The Current citing the Afghan daily newspaper Hasht-e-Subh.

In addition, the provincial government plans to create separate working spaces for male and female hospital workers and forbid male doctors from entering rooms with female patients.

The new policy comes after a series of measures by the Taliban to suppress women’s rights in Afghanistan since their takeover in 2021 after a US military withdrawal. The ban received criticism from journalists, activists, and experts.

"Taliban issued a new ruling in Balkh province, Afghanistan, stating that women are not allowed to visit male doctors," Journalist Ashwini Shrivastava said in a Tweet last Sunday. "And, no education for women as well, so no female doctors either."

Sahar Fetrat of Human Rights Watch, an expert on women's rights issues and a native of Afghanistan, said that while her organization has not yet confirmed these reports, "it doesn't seem impossible" given "the Taliban's continuous infringement of women's rights and restriction of women's access to basic rights and facilities."

"Since August 2021, women's rights have been under constant attack by the Taliban," Fetrat said. "The Taliban started systematically attacking women's rights by taking away women's liberty, subjectivity, and removing women and girls from social and political spheres."

"The Taliban's nonstop attack on women's rights has deprived women and girls of education, employment, access to healthcare, and practicing agency," she added.

After the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 2021 following the U.S. military withdrawal, Fetrat said that "they dismantled every system that protected women from gender-based violence and silenced the female protesters who bravely chanted and demanded 'bread, work, freedom' for all the people of Afghanistan."

"We have all seen by now that with the Taliban in power, every day marks a profound loss for women and girls in Afghanistan." Fetrat also said.

The restrictions on women don’t end with male doctors. Shabnam Nasimi, a former policy advisor for the Minister for Refugees in the UK, said in a Tweet last Tuesday that the “Taliban have reportedly ordered all female beauty salons in a number of provinces across Afghanistan to close their business. They have also sent letters to landlords & told them not to rent to women.

Last November, the Taliban said they seek to train more female doctors as part of a broader plan to increase gender segregation in the country. However, this reported effort of the regime contradicts its well-documented efforts to eliminate secondary education for Afghan women.

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