Social Issues

Taliban push for gender segregation in Afghanistan markets

Kabul, Jan 11 (EFE).- Adila is a shopkeeper at a market that has businesses run by both women and men in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif, in northern Afghanistan, where the Taliban have been now pushing for gender segregation in the establishments, after having implemented it in other areas.

“The Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice asked us a week ago to consider hijab and also, if possible, to change location to Rabia Balkhi women’s market,” Adila, who sells cosmetics and garments, told EFE on Wednesday.

However, she claims the market for women is in decline due to lack of government support and scant promotion, exacerbating the already fragile situation of many like her whose shops are their only form of economic sustenance.

Adila’s shop is among the many in the local market, where many men also work, and establishments run by women may remain open “until the Government finds a specific area for them,” the ministry’s spokesperson Mohammad Sadiq Akif Mahajir told EFE.

The Taliban’s decision to segregate the merchants is another step in the deprivation of Afghan women’s rights, which have been severely curtailed since the return to power of the fundamentalists in August 2021.

In addition to limiting their access to work, prohibiting their access to secondary and higher education, and imposing the mandatory use of the Islamic veil, the interim Taliban government has enacted numerous restrictions that increasingly confine Afghan women to their homes.

The Taliban’s actions are guided by a rigid and fundamental interpretation of Islam and a strict social code known as Pashtunwali.

The conditions are increasingly similar to the first Taliban regime (1996-2001), which was overthrown by th United States invasion of Afghanistan.

Last month, the Taliban banned women from working in non-governmental organizations, under the pretext that many of the female employees did not wear the veil.

This led to widespread criticism from the international community, and led several of the NGOs to suspend their programs in Afghanistan, while the UN warned that if there were no changes in the regulations, they would be forced to stop many activities in the country. EFE


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