Air Travel

Taliban deny Afghan women solo air travel, segregate parks by gender and send men with short beards home

Taliban deny Afghan women solo air travel, segregate parks by gender and send men with short beards home

The Taliban leaders of Afghanistan continue to undermine the freedoms the country has known for two decades, dragging Afghans back under their draconian version of Islamic Sharia and defiantly alienating their regime from the international community in the process.

The latest measures – official and unofficial – include restrictions on women’s travel, men’s grooming and access to international media and even public parks.

No solo flights for women

The Taliban have ordered airlines to prevent women from flying without a male relative.

Employees of an airline and a travel agency told CBS News that the order was conveyed to airline officials this week, although a spokesman for the Taliban Ministry of Vice Promotion and virtue, Akif Muhajer, denied such an order.

In December, the ministry banned women from making any trip over 45 miles without a male escort.

“A woman booked on a domestic flight was prevented from boarding and missed her flight. She came to be reimbursed. She was crying, [saying she] had no male family members,” the travel agent said.

Many Afghan families lost male members during the 20-year war that began with the US invasion to overthrow the Taliban regime in 2001. When that war ended, many more men fled Afghanistan via fear of reprisals from the Taliban, leaving women alone to raise their families. and making their freedom of movement even more essential.

Grow your beard or lose your job

On Sunday, the Taliban refused to allow employees of several government ministries to report for work because they had trimmed their beards or were not wearing clothing deemed appropriate according to the leadership’s interpretation of Islamic law.

Muhajer, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Promoting Vice and Virtue, confirmed the crackdown on the appearance of government employees and said a letter had been sent to all staff a month ago ordering men to wear a full beard and women to wear a hijab or veil.

“Employees of ombudsmen of the Ministry of Promoting Vice and Virtue went to some departments following the order. Still, some employees did not pay attention to the instruction and were arrested for advising” , Muhajer said on Sunday.

Muhammad Sheer, who works for the Afghan government in Kabul, was among those fired from his office for trimming his beard.

“The people at Promotion of Vice and Virtue stopped us for a few hours and warned us that you should come with a long beard next time, or risk losing your job,” he told CBS News.

Parks separated by gender

In another draconian order, the Taliban announced on Sunday that all parks in the country would be segregated by gender.

A letter from the Taliban Ministry for Promoting Vice and Virtue said women would be allowed to visit public parks three days a week and men the other four days, including unarmed Taliban members.

The order means that families and couples will no longer be allowed to frequent parks together.

Block access to news

The US State Department said in a statement on Monday that the Taliban was blocking Afghans’ access to several major media outlets funded in whole or in part by Western governments.

The statement said the United States noted with “concern and deep concern” that the Taliban was denying national distribution of Voice of America, BBC and Deutsche Welle (DW) broadcasts in Germany.

These outlets “reported that their local broadcast partners were prevented from airing their programming in the country due to new, unpublished, restrictive Taliban guidelines,” the State Department said.

Not respecting the “essential commitments”

The latest restrictions show the Taliban methodically returning to the policies they adopted in the 1990s. They come less than a week after the country’s leaders left the students in tears with a last-minute announcement that Afghan schools would remain closed to girls in grade six and above.

The Taliban signed an agreement with the US in 2020 paving the way for a full withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, ending the longest war in US history and paving the way for the Islamic extremist group to regain power across the country.

Since the Taliban took over Kabul and once again became the de facto government of Afghanistan just seven months ago, representatives of the group have visited many foreign capitals in the hope of securing diplomatic recognition.

But the US State Department said the country’s continued crackdown on basic freedoms showed “clearly that the Taliban is failing to deliver on essential commitments it has made to the Afghan people and the international community.”

“Education and freedom of expression are human rights held by every person in Afghanistan. They are not Western values ​​or concessions to the international community; they are human rights and essential to a peaceful and prosperous Afghan society. , which the Taliban claim to want,” the statement read. “We urge the Taliban to stop these violations of the rights of Afghans, and we continue to stand with the Afghan people.”