World News

Afghan women protest ban on beauty salons

KABUL (AP) — Security officials fired shots into the air and used fire hoses Wednesday to disperse dozens of Afghan women protesting in Kabul against an order by Taliban authorities to close beauty salons, the latest move to get them out of the public life.

Since taking power in August 2021, the Taliban government has barred girls and women from high schools and universities, barred them from parks, amusement parks and gyms, and ordered them to cover up in public. .

The order issued last month forces the closure of thousands of hair salons across the country run by women, often the only source of income for households, and bans one of the few remaining opportunities for them to socialize outside the home.

“Don’t take my bread and my water,” read a sign carried by one of the protesters on Butcher Street, where the capital’s halls are concentrated.

Public protests are rare in Afghanistan, and are often dispersed by force, but AFP saw about 50 women participate in the gathering on Wednesday, quickly attracting the attention of security personnel.

The protesters later shared videos and photos with reporters showing authorities using a fire hose to disperse them while gunshots could be heard in the background.

“Today we organized this protest to talk and negotiate,” said a worker at the salon, whose name has not been released by AFP for security reasons.

“But today no one came to talk to us, to listen to us. They ignored us and after a while they dispersed us with aerial shots and water cannons.”

At the end of June, the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice gave salons a month to close, saying the grace period would allow them to run out of stock.

She said she made the request because the extravagant sums spent on makeovers caused hardship for poor families and because some treatments at the salons were not Islamic.

Too much makeup prevented women from proper ablutions for prayer, the ministry said, while eyelash extensions and hair styling were also prohibited.

A copy of the order seen by AFP He said it was “based on verbal instructions from the Supreme Leader” Hibatullah Akhundzada.

Beauty salons have proliferated in Kabul and other Afghan cities in the 20 years that US-led forces occupied the country.