Pakistan Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai on Monday, 9 May, condemned the Taliban government's order forcing Afghanistan women to cover their body from head-to-toe as wanting to "erase girls and women from public life."
On 7 May, the Taliban's recently reinstated Ministry for Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice announced that it is "required for all respectable Afghan women to wear a hijab." The ministry's statement also added that the chandori – a blue-coloured Afghan burqa, which covers a woman from head to toe – is the "best hijab."
Yousafzai said that it was a means to "keep girls out of school, and women out of work."
"We must not lose our sense of alarm for Afghan women as the Taliban continue to break their promises. Even now, women are taking to the streets to fight for their human rights and dignity – all of us, and especially those from Muslim countries, must stand with them," she said in a statement posted on Twitter.
She called for leaders around the world to hold the Taliban accountable for violating the human rights of millions of women and girls.
'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."
Will Increase Pressure on Taliban: US
Meanwhile, the United States said that it will take steps to increase pressure on the Taliban government to reverse its stringent laws restricting the rights of women and girls and warned that it if refused, the US will use 'tools' that it is "prepared to go forward with."
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a briefing on Monday,
"We have a number of tools that, if we feel these won't be reversed, these won't be undone, that we are prepared to move forward with."
Price added, "There are steps that we will continue to take to increase pressure on the Taliban to reverse some of these decisions, to make good on the promises that they have made."
He did not elaborate on any possible steps that the US government might take to stop the Taliban from implementing such policies that erased the 20 years of progress regarding women's rights in Afghanistan, reported Reuters.
The Controversial Order
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 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.