On Saturday, April 30, the Taliban announced a new mandate, ordering women to follow a strict dress code while in public.
The Taliban is slowly imposing severe infringement on women's rights despite promising torespect and uphold women's rights after taking over.
Hibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban chief, announced that women should wear a burqa that covers a woman from head to toe, including their face. Akhundzada said the new dress code is "traditional and respectful."
The order released by Taliban leaders signed by Akhundzada instructs "women who are not too old or young." Women "must cover their face, except the eyes, as per sharia directives, to avoid provocation when meeting men who are not mahram," the order said.
The male “guardian” of women caught showing their faces would be warned first, then jailed for three days, according to the new decree. If violations continue, the male guardian will find himself in court to receive a stricter sentence. It was recommended that it was better for women to “stay at home when possible.”
In an attempt to justify the order, the announcement included an explanation that highlights burqas as "part of Afghan culture and it has been used for ages.”
The latest order is another step back on the Taliban's promise of respecting women's rights when they took power in August last year.
Last March, female students and their hopeful parents suffered a terrible disappointment after the Taliban announced opening schools to female students and abruptly withdrew the announcement.
A video of a crying Afghan girl sent home from school was tweeted by Shabnam Nasimi, the Policy Special Advisor to the U.K. Minister of State for Refugees.
‘Mother, they didn’t let me go to school today. They said girls aren’t allowed to go to school’
Afghanistan is the only country in the world where girls are banned from going to school.
— Shabnam Nasimi (@NasimiShabnam) March 23, 2022
According to Taliban officials, the sudden withdrawal of the school decision was a direct order by Akhundzada.
In September 2021, a month after they took over Kabul, the Ministry of Women, once a bastion of women's rights in Afghanistan, was quickly dismantled. The Taliban housed the Ministries of Prayer and Guidance and the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in the same building once occupied by the Ministry of Women.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) is deeply concerned with the latest announcement, which contradicts its promises.
"This decision contradicts numerous assurances regarding respect for and protection of all Afghans' human rights," UNAMA said. It includes the rights of "women and girls, that had been provided to the international community by Taliban representatives during discussions and negotiations over the past decade," UNAMA added.
Critics also warned the Taliban leadership that such announcements could ward off foreign aid and delay international recognition of the Taliban government.
The U.S. special envoy for Afghan women and girls, Rina Amiri, accused the Taliban of substituting solutions for the economic crisis and the need for inclusive governance in the country with oppressive policies.
However, the Taliban is pushing back on international condemnation. Khalid Hanafi, acting minister for the Taliban's vice and virtue ministry, said they only want their "sisters to live with dignity and safety."