Taliban bans men and women eating together in restaurants in Afghan city of Herat

Campaigner warns Taliban has fostered ‘the most egregious form of gender apartheid’

Maya Oppenheim
Women’s Correspondent
Friday 13 May 2022 14:29 BST
<p>The Taliban has launched a grave crackdown on women’s basic rights since seizing Kabul in mid-August </p>

The Taliban has launched a grave crackdown on women’s basic rights since seizing Kabul in mid-August

The Taliban has implemented a ban on men and women eating out in restaurants together in the western Afghan city of Herat.

Riazullah Seerat, a Taliban official who works for the notorious Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in Herat, said restaurants were verbally told the regulation also bars couples who are married from eating out together.

Men and women have also been ordered to go to the park on differing days of the week under the new rules.

It comes as the Taliban rampis up its attack on women’s basic human rights, with the authorities ordering all Afghan women to wear a burqa that veils their faces while out in public last Saturday.

At a press conference in Kabul, a spokesperson for the hardline Islamist group said a woman’s father or the male family member closest to her would be visited and eventually jailed or sacked from government jobs if it was discovered that she had infringed the new regulations.

The newly released decree also argued women should remain at home if there is no important work for them to do out and about.

Teresa Casale, executive director of Mina’s List, a campaign group which supports Afghan women fleeing the country, hit out at the troubling measures announced earlier in the week.

She said: “This latest ‘burqa edict’ is not just an escalation in the infringement upon women’s freedom of movement and choices on how to dress.

“It restricts every aspect of their lives and assigns responsibility for their actions to men with criminal consequences. It is a declaration of war against their basic humanity.

“If we do not act and use the remaining leverage held by the international community to push back on this decision, we will be complicit in the silencing and erasure of women and girls in Afghanistan. We have tools at our disposal – and we must use them.”

Ms Casale argued the Taliban has now revealed its “true intentions” to the world as she warned the group has fostered “the most egregious form of gender apartheid”.

She added: “By giving men power over women in every setting – at work and at home, in public and in private – this is a women’s rights emergency that extends beyond Afghanistan. What we are willing to accept without consequences sends a message to the world.”

The United Nations Security Council staged emergency meetings on Thursday to discuss the Taliban escalating its clampdown on women’s rights and freedoms.

The Taliban has escalated restrictions since seizing power of the Afghan capital, Kabul, in mid-August as US and British forces withdrew.

The hardline Islamist group, which previously ruled the country, has also blocked women from the workplace and secondary education and barred them from taking part in all sports.

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