In Afghanistan, thousands of beauty parlors are set to permanently close as per an order from Taliban authorities. This move cuts off one of the few revenue sources available to women and eliminates a cherished space for socializing.Since taking control in August 2021, the Taliban government has imposed numerous restrictions on girls and women, including barring them from attending high schools and universities, banning their presence in parks, fun fairs, and gyms, and enforcing the obligation to cover up in public.
Last month, the Taliban issued an order that forces the closure of thousands of salons across the country, typically run by women, which often served as the sole income source for households. This order also eliminates one of the few remaining opportunities for women to socialize outside their homes.
For many women, these salons were a place to gather, share thoughts about their future, and enjoy themselves. The ban on women entering entertainment venues leaves them with limited options for recreation and social interaction.
Last week, women protesting against the order were dispersed by security officials using force in Kabul.
The Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice set a deadline until Tuesday for salons to close, citing reasons such as extravagant spending on makeovers causing hardships for poor families, and some salon treatments being deemed un-Islamic.
According to the order, some beauty treatments were considered hindrances to proper ablutions for prayer, including excessive makeup. Eyelash extensions and hair weaving were also forbidden.
The order, based on verbal instruction from the supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, comes after the rise of beauty parlors during the 20-year occupation of the country by United States-led forces. These parlors were seen as safe spaces for women to gather and conduct business, providing crucial economic opportunities for them.
However, with the ban in effect, an estimated 60,000 women will lose their income from approximately 12,000 beauty salons, according to the Afghanistan Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
A report to the U.N.’s Human Rights Council by Richard Bennett, the special rapporteur for Afghanistan, highlighted the dire situation for women and girls in the country, stating that the level of discrimination against them was among the worst in the world. The concern of gender apartheid arising from Taliban ideology and rule was also raised.