Banning Beauty

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The Taliban is forcing all beauty salons in Afghanistan to close, shuttering some of the last spaces available to women outside the home, the Associated Press reported.

The Taliban said it decided to ban beauty salons because they offered services forbidden by Islam and caused economic hardship for the families of grooms during weddings, the newswire said.

Grooms’ families customarily pay for pre-wedding salon visits by brides and their close female relatives.

Meanwhile, the Taliban listed a series of services offered by beauty salons that it said violated Islam, including eyebrow-shaping, the use of hair extensions and makeup – it said the latter interferes with the ablutions required before prayer.

In June, the Taliban announced that salons would have one month to wind down their businesses, which spurred a rare public protest in which dozens of beauticians and makeup artists gathered in the capital Kabul, before security forces used fire hoses, tasers and guns to disperse the demonstrators.

The deadline expired July 26.

The decision is the latest curb on the rights and freedoms of Afghan women and girls following edicts barring them from education, public spaces including gyms and parks, and most forms of employment. Women are ordered only to leave home with a male relative.

The ban also drew concern from international groups worried about its impact on female entrepreneurs, especially women-headed families with no male breadwinner.

Meanwhile, the United Nations said it was trying to get the prohibition reversed, saying it “will impact negatively on the economy,” which has collapsed since the Taliban takeover in 2021.

“This isn’t about getting your hair and nails done,” said Heather Barr of Human Rights Watch. “This is about 60,000 women losing their jobs. This is about women losing one of the only places they could go for community and support.”

Despite initial promises of a more moderate rule than when it ran the country in the 1990s, the Taliban reneged on those promises since seizing control of Afghanistan in August 2021 when US-led forces pulled out.

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