Fear of vanity: Taliban water cannons on Afghan women protesting ban on beauty salons

A woman wearing a niqab enters a beauty salon where a shopkeeper has distorted advertisements for women in Kabul, Afghanistan, October 6, 2021.  - Reuters
A woman wearing a niqab enters a beauty salon where a shopkeeper has distorted advertisements for women in Kabul, Afghanistan, October 6, 2021. – Reuters

KABUL: Security officers fired in the air and used firehose to disperse dozens of Afghan women demonstrating in Kabul on Wednesday against an order by Taliban officials to close beauty parlours, shutting them out of public life. The latest to do is ban.

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

The order, issued last month, forces the closure of thousands of beauty parlors run by women across the country – often the only source of income for households – and robs them of their few remaining opportunities for social interaction away from home. One of them is turned off.

“Don’t take my bread and water,” read a placard carried by a protester on Butcher Street, which boasts of the concentration of the capital’s saloons.

While public protests are rare in Afghanistan – and are often dispersed by force – the women attending Wednesday’s gathering quickly attracted the attention of security personnel.

Protesters later shared videos and photos with reporters, showing officers using firehose to disperse them as gunshots could be heard in the background.

A salon employee said, “Today we arranged this protest for talks and talks.”

“But today, no one came to talk to us, listen to us. They paid no attention to us and after a while they dispersed us by firing in the air and using water cannons.”

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemned the protests.

“Reports of a crackdown on women’s peaceful protest against ban on beauty salons – the latest denial of women’s rights in #Afghanistan – are extremely worrying,” it said in a tweet.

“Afghans have a right to express their views free of violence. In fact the authorities should uphold it.”

At the end of June the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Evil gave the salons a month to close, adding that the grace period would allow them to use up the stock.

It states that she ordered this because the exorbitant amounts of money spent on makeovers caused hardship to poor families and that some of the treatments at the salon were un-Islamic.

The ministry said too much make-up prevents women from taking a proper ablution for prayer, while eyelash extensions and hair weaving are also banned.

Order copy seen AFP Said it was based on verbal instructions from the “supreme leader” Hibatullah Akhundzada.

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Beauty parlors sprouted up in Kabul and other Afghan cities during the 20 years after United States-led forces occupied the country.

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

A report to the UN Human Rights Council last month by Richard Bennett, special envoy to Afghanistan, said the plight of women and girls in the country was “one of the worst in the world”.

“Severe, systematic and institutionalized discrimination against women and girls is at the heart of the Taliban’s ideology and governance, which also raises concerns that they may be responsible for gender apartheid,” Bennett said.

Akhundzada, who rarely appears in public and rules by order of the Taliban’s birthplace of Kandahar, said last month that adopting Islamic rule was protecting Afghan women from “traditional oppression” and ” Their status as “free and dignified human beings” is being restored.

He said in a statement on the occasion of the Eid al-Adha holiday that steps have been taken to provide women with a “comfortable and prosperous life in accordance with Islamic Sharia”.

Women are also mostly barred from working for the UN or NGOs, and thousands have been dismissed from government jobs or are being paid to stay at home.

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