Déjà vu: Taliban orders women to wear burkas in public so they can ‘live with dignity and safety’

With, to quote Bob Geldof, “a sickening sense of déjà vu,” women in Afghanistan will once again have to don a full, head-to-toe burqa to go out in public, according to a new decree from Taliban leaders.

Known as a “chadori,” the blue burqa allows only the eyes to remain uncovered, and according to Khalid Hanafi, acting minister for the Taliban’s vice and virtue ministry, it’s what is best for Afghanistan’s “sisters.”

“Islamic principles and Islamic ideology are more important to us than anything else,” Hanafi said. “We want our sisters to live with dignity and safety.”

Shir Mohammad, also of the vice and virtue ministry, declared the chadori to be the appropriate garb for “dignified” women.

“For all dignified Afghan women, wearing hajib is necessary and the best hajib is chadori, which is part of our tradition and is respectful,” Mohammad stated. “Those women who are not too old or young must cover their face, except the eyes.”

According to the New York Post, the Taliban also stated that, if a woman doesn’t have “important work” outside the home, she should just stay at home.

“Refusal to comply with the order can result in a male guardian being locked up for three days,” the Post reports.

For many, the oppressive move stands in stark contrast to Taliban claims after retaking the war-torn nation that they would respect women, but as the Associated Press reported in August 2021, what they actually promised was to “honor women’s rights within the norms of Islamic law,” and that can mean a lot of things.

“The treatment of women varies widely across the Muslim world and sometimes even within the same country, with rural areas tending to be far more conservative,” AP explained at the time. “Some Muslim countries, including neighboring Pakistan, have had female prime ministers, while ultraconservative Saudi Arabia only recently allowed women to drive.”


Following President Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal of Afghanistan and the Taliban’s swift retaking of Kabul, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan vowed the U.S. would not simply take the Taliban’s word on the women’s rights issue.

“Like I’ve said all along, this is not about trust,” Sullivan said at the time. “This is about verify. And we’ll see what the Taliban end up doing in the days and weeks ahead, and when I say we, I mean the entire international community.”

But so far, it seems as though the international community is too occupied with events in Ukraine to notice that the Taliban has been trampling on the rights of the Afghani people.

In March, the Post notes, all government employees were told they must adhere to a dress code and wear a beard or risk losing their job. With respect to women, they can no longer take a flight unless accompanied by a male chaperone. And those girls’ schools the Taliban promised have yet to open.

On Twitter, international journalists are hoping the world will pay attention.

“Taliban imposing a compulsory vailing rule on women has no place in our diverse culture & history, let alone that it takes away the very right of Afghan women as Muslims to have their own interpretation of Islam & hijab,” wrote Lotfullah Najafizada. “We’re not even talking about women’s freedom of choice.”

Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad tweeted, “As I predicted reformed Taliban are the same as old Taliban. Afghan govt orders all women to cover up from head to toe and wear burqa all the time.”

“Will [Rina Amiri] the US special envoy for Afghan women wear a burqa when she meets the Taliban to discuss women’s rights?” Alinejad asked.

And journalist Mustafa Bag called on the very international community Sullivan insisted would be watching to act immediately.

“Today,” Bag tweeted, “the world’s female leaders, women’s rights activists, prominent figures, female actresses, human rights defenders, the UN, NGOs and scholars must speak up against the Taliban’s un-Islamic pressure to cover Afghan women’s faces.”





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