Taliban order closure of hair and beauty salons for ‘the betterment of women’

The Taliban has tightened its grip on public life in Afghanistan by ordering the closure of hair and beauty salons "for the betterment of women".

Salons throughout the country only have one month to wind down and then report the closure of their businesses, according to a spokesperson for the Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and Propagation of Virtue.

This follows a move to ban women from university education, public spaces and most forms of employment and also follows a government statement about the "betterment of women".

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The letter from the Ministry doesn't give an outright reason for the ban, but the statement from just days before the move claims the government is taking steps towards a more "comfortable" life for women.

The statement cites supreme leader of Afghanistan Hibatullah Akhundzada and says his government would take "necessary steps" for "the betterment of women as half of society in order to provide them with a comfortable and prosperous life according to the Islamic Shariah".

Following the withdrawl of US troops in 2021 salons remained open, but with strict curbs like having the windows covered and spray paint daubed over images of women's faces.

One beauty salon owner and widow said she is her family's sole breadwinner and the move curbs her future prospects.

Speaking to AP, she said: "Day by day they [the Taliban] are imposing limitations on women.

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"Why are they only targeting women? Aren't we human? Don't we have the right to work or live?"

Another woman told the BBC: "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."

Despite the new Taliban regime stating that they would be more moderate than their predecessors, women have been banned from public spaces, amusement parks, public baths, gyms and sports clubs.

Women must also dress in a way which only reveals their eyes and if they are travelling more than 72km (48 miles) they must be accompanied by a male relative.

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