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The Taliban say they are outlawing women's beauty salons in Afghanistan

A woman walks past beauty salons with window decorations that have been defaced in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021.
Bernat Armangue
A woman walks past beauty salons with window decorations that have been defaced in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021.

ISLAMABAD — The Taliban are banning women's beauty salons in Afghanistan, a government spokesman said Tuesday.

It's the latest curb on the rights and freedoms of Afghan women and girls, following edicts barring them from education, public spaces and most forms of employment.

A spokesman for the Taliban-run Virtue and Vice Ministry, Mohammad Sidik Akif Mahajar, didn't give details of the ban. He only confirmed the contents of a letter circulating on social media.

The ministry-issued letter, dated June 24, says it conveys a verbal order from the supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada. The ban targets the capital, Kabul, and all provinces, and gives salons throughout the country a month's notice to wind down their businesses. After that period, they must close and submit a report about their closure. The letter doesn't give reasons for the ban.

Its release comes days after Akhundzada claimed that his government has taken the necessary steps for the betterment of women's lives in Afghanistan.

It drew criticism from human and women's rights defenders on social media.

The United Nations on Tuesday also said it was engaged with the authorities in Afghanistan to get the ban on beauty salons reversed. The U.N. mission in Afghanistan, or UNAMA, took to Twitter, urging the Taliban to halt the edict.

"This new restriction on women's rights will impact negatively on the economy&contradicts stated support for women entrepreneurship," it said.

Earlier, one beauty salon owner said she was her family's only breadwinner after her husband died in a 2017 car bombing. She didn't want to be named or mention her salon for fear of reprisals.

Between eight to 12 women visit her Kabul salon every day, she said.

"Day by day they (the Taliban) are imposing limitations on women," she told The Associated Press. "Why are they only targeting women? Aren't we human? Don't we have the right to work or live?"

Despite initial promises of a more moderate rule than during their previous stint in power in the 1990s, the Taliban have imposed harsh measures since seizing Afghanistan in August 2021 as U.S. and NATO forces were pulling out.

They have barred women from public spaces, like parks and gyms, and cracked down on media freedoms. The measures have triggered a fierce international uproar, increasing the country's isolation at a time when its economy has collapsed — and have worsened a humanitarian crisis.

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The Associated Press
[Copyright 2024 NPR]