A banner reading in Dari 'O women, you will be addressed by Fatimah, the most beautiful woman is the one who is protective of her hijab' in Kabul, Afghanistan, 21 March 2023. EFE/EPA/FILE/SAMIULLAH POPAL

Taliban crack down on women’s protest against beauty salon ban

Kabul, Jul 19 (EFE).- The Taliban forces fired shots in the air and used water cannons to disperse a protest on Wednesday by dozens of women in Kabul against a recent government order to close women’s beauty salons.

“The Taliban security forces acted violently against us, they opened fire, poured water over us, beat girls, and took their phones,” a protester said in a video clip shared by a women’s activist group

Although demonstrations in Afghanistan are very rare for fear of repression by the fundamentalists, women turned out carrying banners and shouting slogans such as “work, food, justice.”

The protesters demanded revoking the ban on beauty salons in the country, which has shut down one of the few spaces in society where women were able to work or engage in social activity.

The violence against protesters was criticized by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which expressed concern about the deterioration in the lives and safety of Afghan women since the Taliban came to power.

“Reports of the forceful suppression of a peaceful protest by women against the ban on beauty salons the latest denial of women’s rights in Afghanistan are deeply concerning,” UNAMA posted on Twitter.

The order to close the beauty salons was decided by the so-called virtue and vice Ministry following the verbal instructions of Taliban’s supreme leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada.

The ban is another blow in the lives of Afghan women, who already lost a significant portion of their sources of income as well as basic rights such as education, since the Taliban seized power in August 2021.

Since then, Afghan women’s rights have drastically diminished due to multiple restrictions being imposed one after the other, such as gender segregation in public places, the imposition of the burqa and the requirement to be accompanied by a male relative on long-distance journeys.

In December, the hardliners banned women from studying in universities and working in non-governmental organizations, an order that followed the long-standing ban on girls’ secondary education, imposed since the group’s return to power.

Over the last two years, the Taliban have been reinstating the oppressive norms of their previous regime – between 1996-2001- based on a rigid interpretation of Islamic law that stripped women out of several fundamental rights including access to education, work and public life. EFE