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Taliban administration orders beauty salons in Afghanistan to close

July 4, 2023 at 8:46 pm

Taliban soldiers take security measures as Afghan Muslims gather to perform Eid al-Adha prayer at a mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan on June 28, 2023 [Murteza Khaliqi – Anadolu Agency]

The Taliban administration in Afghanistan has ordered beauty salons to close within a month, the morality ministry said, in the latest shrinking of access to public places for Afghan women, Reuters reports.

“The deadline for the closing of beauty parlours for women is one month,” Mohammad Sadiq Akif, a spokesperson for the Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and Propagation of Virtue, said on Tuesday, referring to a ministry notice.

Foreign governments and UN officials have condemned growing restrictions on women since the Taliban returned to power in 2021 after defeating a US-backed government as foreign forces withdrew.

Last year, authorities closed most girls’ high schools, barred women from university and stopped many female Afghan aid staff from working. Many public places, including bathhouses, gyms and parks have been closed to women.

READ: World Food Programme set to run out of money for food assistance to Afghans in October

Beauty salons sprung up in Kabul and other Afghan cities in the months after the Taliban were driven from power in late 2001, weeks after the 11 September attacks on the United States.

Many remained open after the Taliban returned to power two years ago, providing some women with jobs and their customers with their services. The salons are usually female-only and have their windows covered so that customers cannot be seen from outside.

Sahar, a Kabul resident who visited a salon every few weeks to get her hair and nails done, said she felt that a final avenue for socialising safely outside of family had now been cut off.

“Parks are not allowed for women so it was a good place for us to meet our friends … it was a good reason to see each other, to meet other women, other girls to talk about issues,” she said, asking that her full name not be published for security reasons.

“Now I don’t know how to meet them, how to see them, how to talk to each other … I think it will be very impactful for us and women around Afghanistan,” she said.

Western governments and international organisations have signalled that restrictions on women are hampering any possible progress to international recognition for the Taliban administration.

The administration says it respects women’s rights in accordance with its interpretation of Islamic law and Afghan customs.

READ: Taliban bans female higher education in Afghanistan