By Rukhshana Media
A group of women in the Afghan capital protested the Taliban’s order which required them to don a face-to-toe covering whenever stepping out of their homes on Tuesday.
The order was issued in late December, when the Taliban’s Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice banned women from traveling farther than 78 km without a close male relative, ordering forced hijab on women using transport. The ministry ordered drivers not to give rides to women who do not observe hijab, which means “burqa and long black dresses” that cover women head to toe, according to a spokesman of the ministry.
Since then, the ministry has put up posters all around the Afghan capital, Kabul, showing headshots of two fully covered women, one in a burqa, the other in a black niqab. The poster is accompanied by a message: “According to the command of Sharia, Muslim women must observe hijab.”
Gathered around the Taliban’s Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the protesters told Rukhshana Media, the campaign is another way to exclude women from society.
“Compulsory hijab and burqa have no place in Islam. What the Taliban want from restricting women and imposing a compulsory hijab is to write off half of the society,” Monesa, a protest organizer, told Rukhshana Media.
“We came to protest, to raise our voice. The world should break its shameful silence in regards to the plight of women in Afghanistan,” a protester shouts in a video of the protest shared with Rukhshana Media. “Women are one side of the political equation in the country,” she added.
The protesters chanted “Food, Work, Freedom” and “I am a woman, I am my own Mahram.”
“The Taliban do not understand that today, many women are the breadwinners of their families and they are the ‘men’ of their lives,” Sima, a protester, told Rukhshana Media.
The march was cut short when the Taliban’s soldiers arrived at the scene confiscating the protesters’ cellphones and deleting videos and pictures of the protest.
Tuesday’s protest was the latest in a string of public defiance against the Taliban. Women have staged protests across the country since the group’s lightning takeover in August, demanding their rights be protected and restored. The Taliban has responded violently by beating protesters and arresting and torturing journalists for covering the protests they deem “illegal.”