According to a U.N. study released on Monday, Afghan women who are single or lack a male guardian are having their access to employment, travel, and healthcare restricted by the Taliban.
In one instance, representatives of the Vice and Virtue Ministry told a lady that getting married would be appropriate if she wanted to continue working at a medical institution. They claimed that it was improper for an unmarried woman to work.
After seizing power in 2021, the Taliban implemented draconian policies that included excluding women from participating in most public life and preventing girls from continuing their education above the sixth grade, even though they had earlier promised more moderate rule.
In addition, they have closed beauty salons and instituted a dress code, detaining women who don’t wear the headscarf, or hijab, as they see fit. The Taliban issued an edict in May 2022 that, like the limitations imposed during their previous administration from 1996 and 2001, called for women to cover their heads and only expose their eyes.
When questioned about Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ response to the most recent prohibitions, the U.N. spokesman said, “Horror!” “It must be unimaginable to have to live there,” Stephane Dujarric continued.
The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in its most recent quarterly report, which covered the months of October through December of last year, that the Taliban are increasingly targeting Afghan women who are unmarried or who do not have a male guardian, or mahram, with them.
Although there are no formal regulations in Afghanistan regarding male guardianship, the Taliban have stated that women are not allowed to walk around or go a particular distance without a male relative.
Because they planned to work without a mahram in October of last year, three female healthcare workers were placed under arrest. According to the report, they were freed once their families attested in writing that they would not do the same crime again.
Since December, the Vice and Virtue Ministry in Paktia province has prohibited women without mahrams from entering medical facilities. To ensure compliance, it makes visits to the province’s medical facilities.
Through checkpoints and inspections, the ministry, which acts as the Taliban’s morality police, is also imposing the hijab and mahram regulations on women who enter public spaces, offices, and educational institutions.
According to the U.N., ministry representatives visited a bus terminal in Kandahar province in December to make sure women weren’t riding long distances without mahrams and gave bus drivers instructions not to let women board without one. In addition, women have been detained for purchasing contraception, which the Taliban has not formally outlawed.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the top spokesman for the Afghan Taliban, claimed that the U.N. report was primarily the result of misinterpretations and charged that the mission was disregarding or disparaging Shariah, or Islamic law.
Afghanistan’s newly elected Islamic government is required to “fully implement all aspects of Shariah for both men and women,” according to a statement released by Mujahid.
This entails implementing laws pertaining to the hijab, male guardianship, and the segregation of women by gender in the workplace and in schools. “It is an insult to the beliefs of a people if UNAMA criticises these cases or views explicit Islamic rulings as an act against human rights,” voiced Mujahid.