Fashion shops in Bamyan province have been told to stop importing short or tight dresses to sell at the market, according to shopkeepers in Bamyan Bazaar.
Member of the Taliban’s Vice and Virtue department in Bamyan gave the directive to shops selling women’s clothes.
Clothes seller Zakaria* said that shops were visited individually by the morality police and given the instruction. They came to his shop and warned him not to import tight or short dresses and avoid selling tight, thin, checkered, and tracksuit pants for women.
Zakaria, 33, said he and other shopkeepers in the bazaar’s Madina Market were threatened that if they are caught selling any of these items, they will be punished.
He is worried because a key part of his business is women’s dresses for special events. These dresses tend to be more fitted or with less skin coverage on arms and ankles because men are generally not permitted at such events, or the men and women are partitioned so they do not see each other.
Now he is now confused what to do because there’s no market demand for other styles. “The party dresses we sell are all made of net. Now if we can’t bring net fabric clothes… I don’t know what to bring except net clothes. Other party clothes can’t be found, except the ones made of net. If it is found and we import it, our customers won’t buy it,” he said.
He said the directive comes on top of an already sluggish sales market. “Even now, it’s very hard to provide for our family’s monthly expenses. In the meantime, the Taliban are imposing a new limit on us every day. I think they are the enemy of the economy and people’s work. They closed the women’s beauty salons. Band-e-Amir National Park has stopped booming. Now they are stuck on women’s clothes. May God bless us in the end because life has become very difficult.”
Last month, the Taliban banned women from visiting Band-e-Amir National Park which may have affected visitor numbers as families can no longer visit the park together.
Shopkeeper Mortaza* was also visited by the morality police. The 38-year-old said he has been selling clothes for more than ten years and he has never felt so suffocated.
“The Taliban only paralyse the people’s economy with their moves. Every day they make a new excuse,” he said. “For example, now they say clothes made of net are not allowed. What is the problem with net clothes from the point of view of Islamic Sharia? I don’t know.”
Mortaza said he imports clothes that are in demand from customers, but if he follows the Taliban-imposed rules, his business would fall.
The Taliban’s Vice and Virtue department in Bamyan released a statement that they had a meeting with local traders and businessmen to inform them that tight and thin clothes are “against Islamic Sharia and Afghan culture” and residents should not use such clothes.
*Pseudonyms have been used for security risk reasons