Afghanistan: Taliban ban long-distance travel to single women

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The Taliban have said Afghan women seeking to travel long distances by road should only be offered transport if accompanied by a male relative.

Taliban fighters stand guard in a vehicle as Afghan women demonstrate in Shahr-e Naw in Kabul on December 16, demanding the Taliban government’s right to education, employment and political representation.
Photo: AFP

The directive, released on Sunday, is the latest restriction on women’s rights since the Islamist group took power in August.

The majority of secondary schools remain closed for girls, while most women have been banned from working.

Campaign group Human Rights Watch said the new restriction went more towards the detention of women.

Heather Barr, deputy director of the women’s rights group, told AFP news agency that the order “closes opportunities for [women] to be able to move freely “or” to be able to flee if they are confronted with domestic violence “.

The latest directive, issued by the Taliban Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, said women traveling more than 72 km should be accompanied by a close family member.

The document calls on vehicle owners to deny rides to women not wearing Islamic headgear or face, although it does not specify what type of headgear to use. Most Afghan women already wear the headscarf.

It also prohibits the broadcasting of music in vehicles.

“I felt really bad,” said Fatima, a midwife who lives in Kabul. BBC, react to the directive. “I can’t go out on my own. What should I do if I or my child is sick and my husband is not available? “

She added: “The Taliban have captured our happiness … I have lost both my independence and my happiness.”

Another Afghan woman told the BBC that while the measure would help some women “feel at ease”, a family escort was no guarantee against violence and harassment.

She referred to an incident in Paghman in 2015 when four women were kidnapped from their families at gunpoint and later raped.

“[The Taliban] must create an environment throughout the country so that women feel safe, ”she added.

Since taking power following the departure of US and allied forces, the Taliban have asked most female workers to stay at home while high schools are only open to boys and teachers.

The Taliban say the restrictions are “temporary” and only in place to ensure that all workplaces and learning environments are “safe” for women and girls. During their previous regime in the 1990s, women did not have access to education and work.

Last month, the group banned women from appearing in television series and ordered female journalists and presenters to wear headscarves onscreen.

Donor countries have told the Taliban they must respect women’s rights before financial aid is restored.

The country faces a deep humanitarian and economic crisis made worse by the withdrawal of international support after the group took power.

-BBC

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