In a distressing turn of events, the Taliban has imposed a ban on beauty salons in Afghanistan, adding to the growing list of restrictions on women’s freedoms since the militant group regained power in 2021. The move has sparked international outrage and raised concerns about the deteriorating situation for Afghan women under Taliban rule.
A spokesman for the Vice and Virtue Ministry announced that businesses had been given a one-month deadline to comply with the ban, starting from July 2, when they were first informed of the decision.
Since the Taliban’s takeover, discrimination against women has become increasingly alarming. Girls’ education has been curtailed, with schooling now only permitted up to the sixth grade. The closure of beauty salons further restricts women’s means of income, leaving them with limited professions such as doctors and nurses. However, the duration of such permissions is also uncertain.
UN experts have labeled this situation as “Gender Apartheid,” highlighting the systematic discrimination and oppression faced by Afghan women. The Taliban’s restrictions extend beyond salon closures, encompassing bans on women’s participation in classrooms, gyms, parks, and even employment with the United Nations. Women are now required to dress in a manner that obscures everything except their eyes and must be accompanied by a male relative for journeys exceeding 72 kilometers (48 miles).
Afghan women, who spoke anonymously due to safety concerns, expressed their shock and dismay at the decision. One woman stated, “The Taliban are taking away the most basic human rights from Afghan women. They are violating women’s rights and depriving them of serving other women. It seems the Taliban do not have any political plan other than focusing on women’s bodies.”
Beauty salons had managed to operate after the Taliban’s return to power two years ago, albeit with windows covered and images of women spray-painted to hide their faces. Afghan women, already grappling with limited freedoms, now face even greater challenges and uncertainties in their daily lives.