The Taliban have ordered hair and beauty salons in Afghanistan to shut in the latest restriction faced by women.
A Vice and Virtue Ministry spokesman told the BBC businesses had one month to comply, starting from July 2 when they were first informed of the move.
Women’s freedoms have steadily shrunk since the Taliban seized power in 2021.
They have barred teenage girls and women from classrooms, gyms and parks, and most recently even banned them from working for the United Nations.
The Taliban have also decreed that women should be dressed in a way that only reveals their eyes, and must be accompanied by a male relative if they are travelling more than 72km (48 miles).
The restrictions have continued despite international condemnation and protests by women as well as activists speaking up on their behalf.
Shutting beauty salons was part of a wide range of measure imposed by the Taliban when they were last in power between 1996 and 2001. But they reopened in the years after the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan.
Reacting to the new closure, an Afghan woman speaking anonymously told the BBC: “The Taliban are taking away the most basic human rights from Afghan women.
“They are violating women’s rights. By this decision, they are now depriving women from serving another women. When I heard the news, I was completely shocked.
“It seems the Taliban do not have any political plan other than focusing on women’s bodies. They are trying to eliminate women at every level of public life.”
Beauty salons remained open even after the Taliban retook power two years ago following the withdrawal of US forces. But shop windows were often covered up and images of women outside salons were spray painted to hide their faces.
The Taliban government has not explained what prompted the ban, or what alternatives, if any, would be available to women once the salons shut.
Another Afghan woman who asked not to be named said her friends had confirmed the closure of hair salons in Kabul and elsewhere. “It’s more shocking news for Afghan women,” she told the BBC. “I went out and saw all the salons in my locality were closed.” (BBC)