In a distressing blow to the already dwindling rights of women in Afghanistan, the Taliban has issued a directive ordering the closure of all beauty salons in the country. The move, seen as another oppressive step by the extremist group, further restricts women’s freedoms and exacerbates the country’s ongoing economic crisis.
On Tuesday 4 July 2023, the spokesperson for the Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and Propagation of Virtue, Muhammad Sadiq Akif, declared that “the deadline for the closing of beauty parlours for women is one month” and that “violators of the edict will face legal action.”
Makeup artists denounced the latest curtailment of women’s rights as draconian and warned it would worsen the difficulties faced by families confronting Afghanistan’s spiralling economic crisis. “The new ruling is shocking for me and many other make-up artists. We earn hand to mouth amidst high inflation and now we are facing a situation where our families will die of starvation,” an interviewee in the capital, Kabul, told The Telegraph.
With Afghanistan already grappling with an economic crisis, many families rely on the income generated by beauty establishments to make ends meet. The new ruling has left makeup artists and beauticians in a state of distress, foreseeing dire consequences for their families’ well-being.
The Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan has resulted in a significant setback for women’s rights. They have taken steps to limit women’s freedom by closing girls’ high schools, barring them from universities, and imposing restrictions on their activities in gyms and parks.
The oppressive measures enforced by the extremist group have impeded the country’s economic recovery efforts, leading to soaring food prices and widespread unemployment as well as skyrocketing poverty levels and erasure of job opportunities.
In yet another blow, the group has barred women from participating in humanitarian work, leading to the suspension of crucial aid programs by the United Nations (UN). Tens of thousands of female aid workers, who play a vital role in providing assistance to vulnerable communities, have been forced out of their jobs. Afghan women, who have fought tirelessly for their rights and empowerment, find themselves once again silenced and marginalised.
The current situation in Afghanistan demands immediate international attention and support to restore the hard-fought progress that has been shattered, a problem exacerbated by a Western invasion of the country following 9/11.