In an act of defiance against the Taliban’s oppressive regime, Afghan women have taken to the streets to protest the recent order to shut down beauty parlors across the nation.
Since the Taliban assumed control in August 2021, girls and women have faced severe curbs, including being banned from schools, parks, and gyms, and forced to cover up in public.
The recent order to close down thousands of beauty parlors, mainly run by women and often the sole source of income for households, represents one of the few remaining opportunities for Afghan women to socialize outside their homes.
Undeterred, around 50 brave women gathered on Butcher Street in Kabul to express their grievances, holding signs with messages like “Don’t take my bread and water.”
Public protests in Afghanistan are a rare occurrence and are frequently met with forceful dispersal. Videos and photos shared by protesters show security personnel using firehoses and firing shots to disperse the gathering.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) strongly condemns the forceful suppression of this peaceful protest, emphasizing that Afghans have the right to express their views without violence.
The ban on beauty parlors represents yet another denial of women’s rights in the country, further exacerbating the already dire situation for women and girls in Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice had issued the closure order, citing the need to address extravagant spending on makeovers that supposedly caused hardship for poor families.
The ministry also deemed some salon treatments as un-Islamic, claiming they interfered with proper ablutions for prayer.
Beauty parlors had served as vital spaces for women to gather and socialize away from men, and their abrupt closure has added to the distress faced by Afghan women under Taliban rule.
A recent report to the UN’s Human Rights Council highlights the grave discrimination against women and girls in Afghanistan, ranking their plight among the worst in the world.
Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada had asserted that Afghan women were being liberated from “traditional oppressions” under Islamic governance, but the reality on the ground reflects a far different picture. Women’s rights continue to be stifled, with many barred from working for international organizations and thousands dismissed from government jobs.
As Afghan women continue to struggle for their rights, their bravery in standing up against the Taliban’s oppressive measures serves as a beacon of hope for a future where freedom and dignity are embraced by all.