| 19 April 2024, Friday |

Afghanistan’s Taliban ban long-distance road trips for solo women

Taliban said that Afghan women who want to travel large distances by road should only be given transportation if they are accompanied by a male relative.

The edict, which went into effect on Sunday, is the most recent restriction on women’s rights since the Islamist party took control in August.

The bulk of secondary schools are still closed to female students, and most women are prohibited from working.

Human Rights Watch claimed the latest ban went a step farther in making women prisoners.

The injunction “closes off chances for [women] to be able to move about freely” or “to be able to leave if they are experiencing abuse in the house,” Heather Barr, the group’s assistant director of women’s rights, told the AFP news agency.

The latest directive, issued by the Taliban’s Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, said women travelling for more than 45 miles (72km) should be accompanied by a close male family member.
“I felt really bad,” Fatima, a midwife who lives in Kabul, told the BBC, reacting to the directive. “I cannot go out independently. What should I do if either I or my child is sick and my husband is not available?”

She added: “The Taliban captured our happiness from us… I have lost both my independence and happiness.”

The document calls on vehicle owners to refuse rides to women not wearing Islamic face coverings, or hijabs, although it does not say which type of covering to use. Most Afghan women already wear headscarves.

It also bans the playing of music in vehicles.

Since taking power following the departure of US and allied forces, the Taliban have told most female workers to stay at home while secondary schools are open only to boys and male teachers.

The Taliban say the restrictions are “temporary” and only in place to ensure all workplaces and learning environments are “safe” for women and girls. During their previous rule in the 1990s, women were barred from education and the workplace.

Last month, the group banned women from appearing in television dramas and ordered female journalists and presenters to wear headscarves on screen.