The Taliban has decided in their latest announcement to outlaw women’s beauty salons in Afghanistan. This follows restrictions on many rights and freedoms for Afghan women in education, employment and public spaces.
The order came from Taliban supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada and was publicly declared by the Virtue and Vice Ministry. There was no reason given for the ban, but beauty salons in Kabul were given a month’s warning to close down businesses. This comes just days after the Taliban Supreme Leader claimed the government was improving the lives of Afghan women.
The UN reported that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) urged the de facto authorities to reverse the ban on beauty salons, citing that the “new restriction on women’s rights” would “impact negatively on the economy and contradicts stated support for women entrepreneurship.”
A beauty salon owner said that she was her family’s sole breadwinner after her husband’s death in a car bombing in 2017. She said everyday the Taliban imposes new restrictions on women and asked “why are they [the Taliban] only targeting women? Aren’t we human? Don’t we have the right to work or live?”
The Taliban’s recent ban specifically targets women-owned beauty salons and men salons will continue operating. Previously, the Taliban issued a warning to men’s salons as well, imposing restrictions on beard length or prohibit shaving. Around 90% of the beauty salons in Afghanistan are owned by women, making this ban particularly detrimental to women’s employment and their ability to support their families. Women beauty salons are popular in Afghanistan and historically have catered to women clients. The men salons serve male customers.
Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in 2021, women have been barred from education, employment, and public spaces like parks and gyms among many other restrictions. These policies have been condemned internationally, further politically isolating Afghanistan at a time of humanitarian crisis, but the Taliban has been clear that they would not concede or make any changes to their brutal restrictions against women and the Afghan people.
NPR 07/05/2023; AP 07/04/2023