The Taliban’s 29 Bans on Women

Taliban Women Bans Afghanistan
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The Taliban already control Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. Following the president’s flight last Sunday, the flag of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan can be seen atop the presidential palace. Thousands of Afghans try to flee with the few belongings they can treasure and it is that, although no blood has been shed in the capture of the city, it is feared that the religious fundamentalists will reimpose their law, the ‘Sharia‘, with all the consequences that this has for the lives of citizens and, especially, for the lives of women and girls.

Taliban leaders have addressed the media and assure that they will be responsible for “ensuring the safety of lives and property.” They assure that “there will be no revenge” and ask the population to “calm down.” However, at least five people have lost their lives trying to flee at the Kabul airport, which has seen terrifying images of people trying to get on planes to leave the country as soon as possible.

Women and girls are the most threatened by the new Taliban regime. It is practically impossible to cover point by point the mistreatment and abuses to which the fundamentalists subject them. However, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), has tried to explain the main prohibitions and punishments for women that represent real violations of their rights and integrity. The Taliban assure that with their laws they intend to “create safe environments, where the chastity and dignity of women are finally sacrosanct, as reflected in the Pashtun beliefs about life in ‘purdah’ (practice to hide female life in public) ».

As they explain from RAWA, the compiled list offers only a “glimpse into the hellish life that Afghan women are forced to lead under the Taliban.” The restrictions and mistreatment against women and girls in the Taliban regime that took place in Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001 include the following points:

1. Female work is strictly prohibited outside the home. Only a few female doctors and nurses are allowed to work in certain Kabul hospitals to care for women and girls.

2. Women are prohibited from leaving the house to carry out any activity as long as they are not accompanied by their mahram, a man of close kinships, such as a father, brother or husband.

3. Women can’t either deal with male traders either.

4. Health care is also precarious for women since they cannot be cared for by male health workers. With such a small number of doctors and nurses, many are unable to access adequate care, which leads to health problems of varying severity and even death.

5. Education is forbidden to women. They cannot go to study at schools, universities or any other educational institution.

6. Women cannot show any part of their body in public, so they are obliged to wear a long veil that covers even their faces (burqa).

7. All those women who do not dress according to the rules established by the Taliban or who are not accompanied by their mahram will be subjected to spanking, beatings and verbal abuse.

8. Women who show their ankles will be subjected to spanking in public.

9. Women accused of having sex outside of marriage will be stoned.

10. The use of cosmetic products is prohibited. In fact, during the Taliban ‘reign of terror’ between 1996 and 2001, cases were reported in which the fingers were amputated of women who were arrested for wearing painted nails.

11. Women are forbidden to speak or shake hands with men other than their mahram.

12. No stranger should hear a woman’s voice, so women are prohibited from laughing in public.

13. It is also forbidden for women to wear high-heeled shoes, as they can produce sound when walking (a man cannot hear a woman’s footsteps).

14. Women cannot get into a taxi without the company of their mahram.

15. Women cannot have a presence on radio, television or in public gatherings of any kind.

16. Sport is also banned for the female gender. They cannot practice it or access any sports center.

17. Women are prohibited from riding bicycles or motorcycles. 

18. Women are prohibited from wearing brightly colored clothes, as the Taliban say they are “sexually attractive colors”.

19. Women may not meet for holidays for recreational purposes.

20. They cannot wash clothes in rivers or public squares.

21. In the Taliban regime, no street, square or avenue can bear the word ‘woman’ in its name. Thus, during the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in the 1990s, Kabul’s “Garden of Women” was renamed the “Garden of Spring.”

22. Women cannot look out of the balconies or windows of their homes either. They should not be seen.

23. To prevent any stranger from seeing a woman, it is mandatory that the windows are opaque.

24. Tailors cannot measure women or make women’s clothing.

25. Women are prohibited from using public toilets.

26. There is segregation on buses. Thus, there are means of transport for men and others for women.

27. Women are prohibited from wearing flared trousers, even when they are hidden under the burqa.

28. No one can photograph or film women.

29. In addition, it is totally forbidden to publish images of women printed in magazines and books. Nor can images of women be hung in houses and shops.

Added to all this are other restrictions, which affect both men and women and which restrict the basic rights and freedoms of the population. Thus, citizens under the Taliban regime are prohibited from listening to music, watching movies, television and, ultimately, any type of video. In addition, it is mandatory that everyone who has a non-Islamic name change it.

On the other hand, the youth are obliged to shave their hair and men must wear Islamic clothing and a cap. Men cannot shave or trim their beards, which must grow to at least one fist below the chin.

During the Taliban regime in Afghanistan at the end of the last century, the Taliban declared certain national holidays pagans, such as the traditional New Year (Nowroz) on March 21, or Labor Day.