The Taliban announced on Sunday that women wishing to travel long distances must be accompanied by a close male relative, in a new sign of a hardening of the regime despite its initial promises, Belga news agency reports.
The recommendation, published by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, has been circulating freely on social media networks. It also calls on drivers not to accept women in their vehicles unless they wear the “Islamic veil.”
“Women travelling more than 45 miles (72 kilometres) may not take the journey if they are not accompanied by a close relative,” French news agency AFP quoted the ministry’s spokesman, Sadeq Akif Muhajir, as saying. The spokesman added that the accompanying family member had to be a man.
This directive comes just a few weeks after the ministry asked Afghan television stations to stop showing soap operas and series with female actors and to ensure that female journalists wear the “Islamic veil” on screen.
The Taliban have not explained what they mean by “Islamic veil” – whether it’s a simple scarf, which most Afghan women already wear, or a veil that covers more.
Since seizing power in August, the movement has imposed various restrictions on women and girls, despite initial promises that the regime would not be as strict as their first one, in 1996-2001.
During their first regime, the Taliban had made it compulsory for women to wear the burqa. It also banned them from leaving home unaccompanied by an adult male relative, working or going to school.