Taliban arrest women for ‘bad hijab’ in first crackdown since return in power

A Taliban spokesman says authorities have arrested women in the Afghan capital Kabul for wearing “bad hijab.”

ABC News (04.01.2023) – The Taliban have arrested women in the Afghan capital for wearing “bad hijab,” a spokesman at the country’s Vice and Virtue Ministry said Thursday.

It’s the first official confirmation of a crackdown on women who don’t follow the dress code imposed by the Taliban since they returned to power in 2021 and has echoes with neighboring Iran, which has enforced mandatory hijab for decades.

The development is the latest blow to Afghan women and girls, who are already reeling from bans on education, employment and access to public spaces.

The spokesman from the Vice and Virtue Ministry, Abdul Ghafar Farooq, didn’t say how many women have been arrested or what constitutes bad hijab.

In May 2022, the Taliban issued a decree calling for women to only show their eyes and recommending they wear the head-to-toe burqa, similar to restrictions during the Taliban’s previous rule between 1996 and 2001.

Farooq said the women were arrested three days ago.

In voice notes to The Associated Press, he said the ministry has heard complaints about women’s lack of correct hijab in the capital and provinces for almost two-and-a-half years.

Ministry officials made recommendations to women and advised them to follow the dress code. Female police officers were sent to arrest the women after they failed to follow the advice, he added.

“These are the few limited women who spread bad hijab in Islamic society,” he said. “They violated Islamic values ​​and rituals, and encouraged society and other respected sisters to go for bad hijab.”

Police will refer the matter to judicial authorities or the women will be released on strict bail, according to Farooq.

“In every province, those who go without hijab will be arrested,” he warned.

The arrests come less than a week after the UN Security Council called for a special envoy to engage with the Taliban, especially on gender and human rights.

But the Taliban criticized the idea, saying that special envoys have “complicated situations further via the imposition of external solutions.”

Late Wednesday, while expressing support for a special envoy for Afghanistan, U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said America remained concerned about the Taliban’s “repressive edicts against women and girls and its unwillingness to foster inclusive governance.”

The decisions made risk irreparable damage to Afghan society and move the Taliban further away from normalizing relations with the international community, added Miller.

Photo: RFE/RL