Tuesday. 18.06.2024

Taliban religious police in Afghanistan have directed all drivers to refrain from playing music in their cars and not to pick up female passengers who do not follow the Islamic dress code.

The message was distributed on an advisory pamphlet. A spokesman for the Taliban’s Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Mohammad Sadiq Akif, confirmed the authenticity of the advisory on Sunday.

The ministry’s letter urges drivers to not pick up female passengers who wish to travel for more than 45 miles (72 kilometres) unless they also have a male guardian with them.

It also orders the drivers to take breaks for prayer and advises people to grow beards.

An Afghan university lecturer, Haroun Rahimi, criticized the Taliban’s directive, saying it means taxi drivers will effectively be in a position to police women’s bodies and their mobility. It will create opportunities for harassment and make public spaces unsafe for women, he said.

“Muslim women are scientists, captains of industries, and political leaders across the world,” Rahimi wrote in a series of tweets. He and other American University of Afghanistan staff were evacuated from Afghanistan earlier this year.

“Afghan women should be encouraged to follow in their steps,” he said.

Women's rights

Since taking the power, the Taliban have significantly curtailed women’s rights. In many cases, they can no longer return to their jobs. Most secondary schools for girls are closed.

Street protests by female activists have been violently suppressed.

Last week, the Taliban authorities began removing images of women used for advertising on billboards and shopfronts in the capital Kabul.

The Taliban’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue existed during the previous Taliban regime in 90s, when it became a notorious symbol of arbitrary abuses through public beatings and imprisonment.

Taliban order taxi drivers to reject female passengers without hijab