The all-covering burqa has become a must for women in Afghanistan , due to orders from Afghanistan’s supreme leader and Taliban chief on Saturday.
The decree marks one of the strictest controls imposed on women’s lives since the hardline Islamists seized power in August.
What did the Taliban order?
The decree from Taliban supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada was read out at a press conference in Kabul.
“They [women] should wear a chadori [head-to-toe burqa] as it is traditional and respectful,” the decree said, referring to the dress that became a global symbol of the Taliban’s previous hardline regime from 1996 until 2001.
The statement said the measure was introduced “in order to avoid provocation when meeting men who are not mahram (adult close male relatives).”
The decree said older women and young girls were exempt.
The statement added that if women had no important work outside it was “better they stay at home.”
From now on, if a woman does not cover her face outside the home, according to the decree, her father or closest male relative would be visited and eventually imprisoned or fired from government jobs.
What did Afghan women wear before now?
Following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, women’s rights were prioritized and many of the strict rules imposed by the Taliban during their first regime in the last 1990s were undone.
Until Saturday, most women in Afghanistan wore a headscarf for religious reasons, but many in urban areas such as Kabul they did not cover their faces.
Under the more moderate rule, many schools opened their doors to girls and women went back to work.
Taliban backslides on promises
When the Taliban took power following the withdrawal of NATO troops last August, the Islamist group vowed not to reimpose the same strict rules on women as during its previous rule.
Girls’ education was banned, women were only allowed to leave the house with a male relative and were required to wear cover their faces.
However, over the past nine months, the group has reimposed most of the restrictions.
In March, the Taliban U-turned and shuttered girls’ high schools on the morning they were due to open.
The administration has also stepped up curbs on women’s movement, restricting their travel without a male chaperone and banning men and women from visiting parks at the same time.
The backslide has drawn the ire of the international community and prompted the United States to cancel planned meetings on easing the country’s financial
Washington and other nations have cut development aid and enforced strict sanctions on the banking system since the Taliban seized control, pushing the country towards economic ruin.