Officials with the Taliban in Afghanistan issued a decree last month ordering women to cover themselves from head to toe when in public.
The order, issued by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, suggests that burqas are the preferred garment for full-body covering but left the door open to other types of clothes as long as women’s face, hair and body are covered.
The New York Times reported that since the Taliban reasserted control of the country in August, “women have been subjected to a cascade of announcements restricting their employment, education, travel, deportment and other aspects of public life.”
Ministry officials said men are responsible for ensuring that the women who live in their households comply with the decree. If women appear without a full-body covering, Taliban leaders said, the male head of their households will first be warned and then issued an escalating series of fines.
The United Nations has condemned the move, and some women’s rights activists have vowed to defy the order.
Shabana Shabdeez, a 24-year-old activist for women’s rights, told The Times, “Women are born free. It is their basic human right to walk around freely.”