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The Taliban ruled on Saturday (7 May) that women in Afghanistan will have to cover their face with an Islamic veil for the first time in decades.
The decree was passed towards the end of the week at a press conference in Kabul as a country-wide decline in women’s rights gathers pace.
Spokesman for the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice Shir Mohammad confirmed head-to-toe chadoris were the preferred covering.
The decree came from Hibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban’s supreme leader, and also stated that women who don’t comply and fail to heed the warnings of male family members can expect to see their male guardian jailed for three days.
Despite the decree being described as ‘advice’, a specific set of repercussions were laid out on Saturday, according to Reuters.
Those stated that if a woman does not cover their face, they would receive an at-home-visit where their husband, brother or father would be spoken to.
A second incident would result in their male guardian being summoned to the ministry and a third could lead to a three-day prison sentence.
Many Afghanistan women already wear headscarves for religious reasons, however, in urban areas like Kabul some women choose not to cover their faces.
When the Taliban first came to power in the 90s, the group enforced the burqa on women, however the group’s deposition by the US in the wake of 2001’s 9/11 terror attacks saw the return of women’s freedoms.
The Taliban’s latest move will enrage human rights activists and follows the group’s March decision to ban girls from attending secondary school, despite previous assurances.
Western officials responded by insisting that the Taliban’s diplomatic recognition will not occur unless the decision is reversed.
Thomas West, the US special envoy for Afghanistan, said: “I was surprised by the turnaround this last Wednesday and the world has reacted to it by condemning this move.
"It is a breach first and foremost of the Afghan people’s trust.
“I believe hope is not all lost. I am hopeful we will see a reversal of that decision in the coming days.”
That same month, the Taliban ordered Afghanistan TV networks to remove BBC news bulletins in Pashto, Persian and Uzbek.
In a statement released in the wake of the news, the BBC said: “This is a worrying development at a time of uncertainty and turbulence for the people of Afghanistan.
"More than 6 million Afghans consume the BBC’s independent and impartial journalism on TV every week.”
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