Europe 1 with AFP 4:15 p.m., May 7, 2022

The Taliban have imposed on women since Saturday the wearing of the burqa which covers the whole body, including the face.

This garment was already imposed under the first Taliban regime.

In addition, any government employee not wearing the full veil will be immediately fired.

This decision revolted feminist activists.

The Taliban have strongly tightened restrictions on the freedom of women in Afghanistan, imposing on them on Saturday the wearing in public of a full veil, preferably the burqa, an announcement strongly criticized by feminist activists.

In a decree issued at a ceremony in Kabul, the supreme leader of the Taliban and Afghanistan, Hibatullah Akhundzada, ordered women to cover their bodies and faces fully in public, saying that the burqa, the full blue veil mesh at eye level, is the best option for this.

Women should wear "a tchadri (another name for the burqa), because it is traditional and respectful", indicates this decree.

"Women who are neither too young nor too old must veil their face, except for their eyes, according to the recommendations of the Sharia, in order to avoid any provocation when they meet a man" who is not a close member of their family, he adds.

And if they have no reason to go outside, it is "better for them to stay at home".

This decree also lists the punishments to which heads of families are exposed who do not enforce the wearing of a full veil.

The first two offenses will be penalized with a simple warning.

On the third, they will be sentenced to three days in prison, and on the fourth they will be brought to justice.

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In addition, any government employee not wearing the full veil will be immediately fired.

“Islam has never recommended the chadri,” reacted to AFP a women's rights activist who remained in Afghanistan, on condition of anonymity.

Broken promises

"We are a broken nation, forced to endure assaults we cannot comprehend. As a people we are crushed," tweeted Muska Dastageer, a former professor at the American University of Afghanistan, now based in Afghanistan. the stranger.

Since the Taliban returned to power in mid-August, the dreaded Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice had issued several recommendations on how women should dress.

But this is the first edict on the subject promulgated at the national level.

The Taliban had previously demanded that women wear at least a hijab, a scarf covering the head but revealing the face.

But they strongly recommended wearing the burqa, which they made compulsory when they first came to power between 1996 and 2001.

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Under their first regime, they had deprived women of almost all rights, in accordance with their ultra-rigorous interpretation of Sharia, Islamic law.

Agents from the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice whipped anyone who was caught without a burqa.

After their return to power, after 20 years of occupation by the United States and its allies, which had driven them out in 2001, the Taliban had promised to be more flexible this time.

But they soon reneged on their promises, steadily eroding rights again and sweeping away 20 years of women's freedom.

Women are now largely barred from government jobs and prohibited from traveling abroad or long distance within the country unless accompanied by a male family member.

Complicated international recognition 

In March, the Taliban closed high schools and colleges for girls, just hours after their long-announced reopening.

This unexpected volte-face, which was not justified except to say that the education of girls must be done in accordance with Sharia law, scandalized the international community.

The Taliban have also imposed the separation of women and men in Kabul's public parks, with designated visiting days for each gender.

The decree issued on Saturday could further complicate the Taliban's quest for international recognition, which the international community has directly linked to respect for women's rights.

"It's an unexpected step back, which will not help the Taliban gain international recognition. Such moves will only intensify opposition to them," the Pakistani analyst told AFP. Imtiaz Gul.

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Over the past two decades, Afghan women had acquired new freedoms, returning to school or applying for jobs in all sectors of activity, even if the country remained socially conservative.

Women first tried to assert their rights by demonstrating in Kabul and in major cities after the return to power of the Taliban.

But they fiercely repressed the movement, arresting many activists and detaining some, sometimes for several weeks.

The burqa is a traditional Afghan item of clothing, widely worn in the more remote and conservative parts of the country.

Even before the return to power of the Taliban, the vast majority of Afghan women were veiled, if only with a loose headscarf.

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