Just a month after the Taliban in Afghanistan made the not-so-surprising announcement of barring girls from attending school, the administration has now imposed another strict decree on women – criminalising their clothing.
The order, the latest among many others that infringe women's rights, takes the country backwards by more than 20 years – to when the Taliban ruled earlier.
'Should Not Be Tight': Order on Hijab
On 7 May, the Taliban's recently reinstated Ministry for Propogation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice announced that it is "required for all respectable Afghan women to wear a hijab". The statement also added that the chandori – a blue-coloured Afghan burqa, which covers a woman from head to toe – is the "best hijab".
The long black veil, which also covers the woman's body is "also acceptable," the statement said.
"Any garment covering the body of a woman is considered a hijab, provided that it is not too tight to represent the body parts nor is it thin enough to reveal the body,” said the statement, reported Al Jazeera.
'Women Will Be Too Scared to Even Go Out'
The decree was received with outrage by Afghan women and activists and global bodies.
“Women in Afghanistan wear the hijab, and many wear the burqa, but this isn’t about hijab, this is about the Taliban wanting to make all women disappear,” Shabana, a resident of Kabul, told news agency AP.
Journalist Margherita Stancati, who covers Afghanistan, wrote that the new rule will make women "too scared to even try to go out".
Protests broke out from across Afghanistan with women protesting the rule, and calling it against Islamic culture.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres raised alarms over the development and urged Taliban to "keep their promises to Afghan women and girls, and their obligations under international human rights law".
If a Woman Defies...
The order also stated what happens if a woman defies the rule – their male guardians will receive a warning. In case of a repeat offence, the male guardian will be punished.
“If a woman is caught without a hijab, her mahram (a male guardian) will be warned. The second time, the guardian will be summoned [by Taliban officials], and after repeated summons, her guardian will be imprisoned for three days,” according to the statement, Al Jazeera reported.
Further repetition of the offence will lead the male guardians to court where their "punishment will be decided".
Government employees who defy the rule will reportedly be fired.