The Taliban administration in Afghanistan has issued an order to shut down all beauty salons run by women within a month, according to the Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and Propagation of Virtue. This is the latest restriction on women’s access to public spaces and freedoms since the Taliban seized power in 2021.
Beauty salons were among the businesses that reopened after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, which toppled the previous Taliban regime that had banned them. Many women relied on these salons for their personal grooming and socializing needs, as well as for employment opportunities. The salons were usually female-only and had their windows covered to protect the customers’ privacy.
However, under the new Taliban rule, women have faced increasing limitations on their education, work, mobility, and dress. The Taliban have closed most girls’ secondary schools, barred women from university, and stopped many female Afghan aid staff from working. They have also decreed that women should wear garments that only reveal their eyes, and must be accompanied by a male relative if they are traveling more than 72km (48 miles). Many public places such as bathhouses, gyms, and parks have been closed to women as well.
The Taliban have not given any explanation for the closure of beauty salons, or what alternatives, if any, would be available to women once they shut. Some Afghan women have expressed their shock and dismay at the decision, saying that it is a violation of their basic human rights and dignity. They also fear that they will lose one of the few safe spaces where they can meet and talk with other women.
The international community has condemned the growing restrictions on women in Afghanistan and has signaled that they are hampering any possible progress toward recognition and aid for the Taliban administration. The administration says it respects women’s rights in accordance with its interpretation of Islamic law and Afghan customs.