The Taliban government in Afghanistan on Saturday ordered that women must cover their faces in public, returning to the restrictive policy that ended more than two decades ago.
Supreme Leader Haibatullah Akhundzada ruled that a woman who refuses to comply could lead to her father or closest male relative facing imprisonment or loss of a state job.
“We call on the world to co-operate with the Islamic Emirate and people of Afghanistan … Don’t bother us. Don’t bring more pressure, because history is witness, Afghans won’t be affected by pressure,” Mohammad Khalid Hanafi, the minister for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, told a news conference, Reuters reported.
The group announced the recommended covering would be a blue burqa, the head-to-toe garment forced upon Afghan women during the Taliban’s previous rule.
Most Afghan women already wear a headscarf, though the new requirement and its enforcement increase the regulation and punishment upon a woman’s family.
The United Nations’ mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) released a statement on Saturday that opposed the ruling.
“UNAMA is deeply concerned with today’s announcement by the Taliban de facto authorities that all women must cover their faces in public, that women should only leave their homes in cases of necessity, and that violations of this directive will lead to the punishment of their male relatives,” the statement read.
“UNAMA will immediately request meetings with the Taliban de facto authorities to seek clarification on the status of this decision. UNAMA will also engage in consultations with members of the international community regarding its implications, the statement added.
António Guterres, Secretary-General of the U.N., also expressed his concern over the new annoucement.
“I’m alarmed by today’s announcement by the Taliban that women must cover their faces in public and leave home only in cases of necessity,” he tweeted. “I once again urge the Taliban to keep their promises to Afghan women & girls, and their obligations under international human rights law.”
I'm alarmed by today's announcement by the Taliban that women must cover their faces in public and leave home only in cases of necessity.
I once again urge the Taliban to keep their promises to Afghan women & girls, and their obligations under international human rights law.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) May 8, 2022
The move is one of several efforts pushing back against the rights of women in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s return to rule and America’s military departure last year.
“Since the Taliban takeover in August, the group has imprisoned dozens of women’s rights activists, restricted access to education for women and girls, and blocked women from international travel without a male guardian,” the Washington Post reported regarding the announcement.
“Many women have also been barred from the workplace under Taliban rule because of guidelines forbidding men and women to work in proximity to one another,” the report added.
The Daily Wire has previously reported that Taliban forces have claimed they are developing a 2022 education curriculum, but the State Department told the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction it has no evidence of it being operational yet.
Afghan women have also been forced from their jobs after the terrorist group assumed power. According to the United Nations Develop Program, restrictions on female employment could cost the national economy $1 billion and a GDP slippage of 5%. Prior to the Taliban takeover, women constituted more than 20% of Afghanistan’s workforce.