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The Taliban ordered Afghan women to cover themselves from head to toe, backtracking on previous pledges to support women’s rights after the militant group took over Afghanistan in August following the withdrawal of foreign troops, Axios reported.
Officials issued a decree over the weekend, saying “wearing Hijab is necessary and the best Hijab is chador (the head-to-toe burqa) which is part of our tradition and is respectful.”
They warned that husbands and other male relatives of women who do not follow the rules could face imprisonment. The decree also said that women who do not have important work outside the house should stay home.
Some believe the move marks a significant shift by the militant group, which had initially promised to defend women’s rights even as it moved in recent months to impose restrictions on women.
Soon after their takeover, they replaced the women’s ministry with the Ministries of Prayer and Guidance and the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. The group has also placed restrictions on women’s movement.
In March, the Taliban abruptly reneged on their pledge to allow girls to attend school beyond the sixth grade.
Others say the Taliban’s promises regarding women’s rights were never taken seriously judging from past statements and actions, especially when it governed Afghanistan in the 1990s. Regardless, human rights groups criticized the new decree, noting that it’s “far past time for a serious and strategic response to the Taliban’s escalating assault on women’s rights.”
Still, the international community has cut aid and frozen the government’s funds held abroad, which has plunged Afghanistan into a humanitarian crisis.
The United Nations has warned that more than 50 percent of the population is experiencing acute hunger.