No long-distance travel for women without male relatives: Taliban | Women’s rights news

Taliban officials say women must be accompanied by a close male relative if they travel more than 72 km, which is doomed.

In Afghanistan, Taliban officials say women seeking to travel long distances should not be allowed to take road transport unless accompanied by a close male relative.

Guidelines released on Sunday by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, which also called on vehicle owners to deny trips to women not wearing a headscarf, drew condemnation from rights activists.

The move followed the Taliban who prevented many women in public sector positions from returning to work following their seizure of power on August 15, and while girls remain largely cut off from secondary education.

It also came despite the group seeking to project a moderate image internationally in a bid to re-establish aid suspended when the previous government imploded in the final stages of a chaotic US military withdrawal.

“Women traveling more than 72 km (45 miles) should not be offered a ride if they are not accompanied by a close family member,” ministry spokesman Sadeq Akif Muhajir said, specifying that the companion must be a man.

The new guidelines, posted on social media networks, also asked people to stop playing music in their vehicles.

A few weeks ago, the ministry asked Afghan television stations to stop broadcasting dramas and soap operas featuring actresses. He also called on women television journalists to wear headscarves during their presentations.

Muhajir said on Sunday that the hijab would also be required for women seeking transportation.

The Taliban’s definition of hijab – which can range from a hair cover to a face veil or full body cover – is unclear, and most Afghan women already wear a headscarf.

“Making women prisoners”

Human Rights Watch criticized the guidelines.

“This new order essentially goes… further in the direction of the detention of women,” Heather Barr, deputy director of women’s rights for the group, told AFP news agency.

It “cuts off their ability to move freely, to go to another city, to do business, (or) to be able to flee if they face violence at home,” Barr added.

Earlier this month, the Taliban issued an executive order on behalf of their supreme leader, ordering the government to uphold women’s rights, but it did not mention girls’ access to education.

Afghan Higher Education Minister Abdul Bqi Haqqani said on Sunday authorities were discussing the matter.

“The Islamic Emirate is not against the education of women but it is against coeducation,” Haqqani told reporters.

“We are working to build an Islamic environment where women could study… it could take some time,” he said, without specifying when the girls could return to school and university classes through the country.

Women’s rights were severely curtailed during the Taliban’s previous seizure of power in the 1990s.

They were forced to wear the burqa, a full veil that also covers the face, could only leave the house with a male chaperone, and were barred from work and education.

Respect for women’s rights has been cited repeatedly by major global donors as a condition for restoring aid.

The United Nations has warned that Afghanistan faces an “avalanche of hunger” this winter, estimating that 22 million citizens face severe food shortages.