Fresh restrictions have been put in place in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan as shopkeepers have been instructed to remove thin and tight-fitting women’s clothing from their shops. In a statement, the Department of Vice and Virtue of Bamiyan urged the province’s businessmen to not import thin, form-fitting clothing for women that is “against Sharia and Afghan culture” into the market, Afghanistan-based TOLO News reported.
The department ordered the citizens of the province not to wear “tight, thin, and short” clothing, calling it an imitation of Western culture. “We have advised the traders, shopkeepers and crafting people that we are Muslim and our culture is Islamic. You should import clothes which are in line with the Afghan culture and tradition. The clothes which are not in accordance with Islamic culture for example, the short, tight and thin, should not be imported because we are Muslim and our society is Islamic,” said Mahmoodul Hassan Mansouri, head of the Department of Vice and Virtue, as reported by TOLO News.
A couple of days ago, the UN special rapporteur for Afghanistan, Richard Bennet, called on the Taliban to reverse the “draconian, misogynist policies” against women and allow them to work and run businesses, Tolo News reported. Speaking to the 54th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council on September 13, Bennett said 60,000 women have lost their jobs due to recent restrictions of the interim Afghan government.
However, some of the cultural activists welcomed the department’s decision saying that women had already been observing hijab in Bamiyan. “We women have always observed the hijab and that is our Islamic responsibility,” said Zainab Sadaat, a cultural activist. Meanwhile, some of the shopkeepers said that they have been ordered to remove thin and tight-fitting clothes from their shops.
“They have instructed us to not import short, tight and thin clothes. We are happy about this decision because we are all Muslims,” said Ali Riza, a shopkeeper. According to the Department of Vice and Virtue in Bamiyan, if anyone violates the law, they will face the music, TOLO News reported.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticised the imposition of restrictions on Afghan women. In a report, HRW said that Afghan women have been denied the right to education, employment, and social involvement since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. The report released by HRW reads, “Over the past two years, Taliban authorities have denied women and girls their rights to education, work, movement, and assembly. The Taliban have imposed extensive censorship on the media and access to information, and increased detentions of journalists and other critics,” according to TOLO News.
Similarly, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in a report in July said that the Taliban continues to restrict the rights of women and girls, Afghanistan-based TOLO News reported. The seven-page report that covers the period from May to June highlighted the restrictions imposed by the Taliban on women.
The report said, “On 3 May 2023, the de facto Ministry of Public Health announced that only male medical students would be permitted to take the ‘Exit Supplementary Exam’ in order to pursue further specialized medical studies,” TOLO News reported.
It further said that the move comes in addition to the earlier bans preventing women from appearing in the medical school entrance examinations. The report said that the UNAMA recorded instances when the Taliban took measures to impose previously announced restrictions on women’s freedom of movement and participation in employment.
The Taliban’s decision to ban female students above grade six from school has drawn widespread criticism at the national and international levels. Further, the Taliban which took over Kabul in August last year has curtailed women’s rights and freedoms, with women largely excluded from the workforce.