Afghan women protest against beauty parlour ban - GulfToday

Afghan women protest against beauty parlour ban


Afghan women stage a protest for their rights at a beauty salon in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Wednesday. AFP

Security officials shot in the air and used firehoses on Wednesday to disperse dozens of Afghan women protesting in Kabul against an order by Taliban authorities to shut down beauty parlours, the latest curb to squeeze them out of public life.

Since seizing power in August 2021, the Taliban government has barred girls and women from high schools and universities, banned them from parks, funfairs and gyms, and ordered them to cover up in public.

The order issued last month forces the closure of thousands of beauty parlours nationwide run by women -- often the only source of income for households -- and outlaws one of the few remaining opportunities for them to socialise away from home.

"Don't take my bread and water," read a sign carried by one of the protesters on Butcher Street, which boasts a concentration of the capital's salons.

Public protests are rare in Afghanistan -- and frequently dispersed by force — but AFP saw around 50 women taking part in Wednesday's gathering, quickly attracting the attention of security personnel.

Protesters later shared videos and photos with journalists that showed authorities using a firehose to disperse them as shots could be heard in the background.

Afghan burqa-clad women come out from a beauty salon in Kabul on Wednesday. AFP

"Today we arranged this protest to talk and negotiate," said a salon worker, whose name has not been published by AFP for security reasons.

"But today, no one came to talk to us, to listen to us. They didn't pay any attention to us and after a while they dispersed us by aerial firing and water cannon."

In late June the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice gave salons a month to close down, saying the grace period would allow them to use up stock.

It said it made the order because extravagant sums spent on makeovers caused hardships for poor families, and that some treatments at the salons were un-Islamic.

Too much make-up prevented women from proper ablutions for prayer, the ministry said, while eyelash extensions and hair weaving were also forbidden.

A copy of the order seen by AFP said it was "based on verbal instruction from the supreme leader" Hibatullah Akhundzada.

Beauty parlours mushroomed across Kabul and other Afghan cities in the 20 years that US-led forces occupied the country.

They were seen as a safe place to gather and socialise away from men and provided vital business opportunities for women.

Agence France-Presse




Related articles