Women without male companions barred from leaving Afghan airports

A number of airline passengers said women under the age of 45 have been prevented from boarding planes at the Kabul airport as they did not have legitimate male companions traveling with them.

For some women this has created enormous problems.

The restriction has been imposed on major airports, including Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar and Herat, according to those traveling.

Khoshi Faizi, a student who has a scholarship to study in India, said she was stopped by the Taliban at Kabul airport and barred from leaving the country as she was not accompanied by a male relative.

“Not only me but dozens of other women were not allowed to enter the airport. Taliban are not allowing us to travel abroad without a legitimate male companion.”

The current circumstances have pushed many women to travel with a male member of their family, a Kabul resident said.

“I decided to travel with my father. It is so unfortunate to see women are going through such circumstances and have no right to decide about their future,” said Lailuma, a Kabul resident.

Two other women said that the passports of the solo female travelers taken off them until the flights had departed.

“When I went to the airport, the Taliban took my passport because I was not accompanied by a male member of my family,” said Mina, a woman from Kabul. “I waited at least three hours and they did not allow me to travel. They told me that I am not allowed to travel because I don’t have a male companion.”

She added: “The flight took off and then we were given our passports and I returned home. This is suffocating.”

A number of activists said that the restrictions by the Taliban will create many issues for women.

“We witnessed in the last two decades that women were moving towards self-reliance and could travel alone, but they cannot do this now,” said Sonia Nayil, a women’s rights activist.

This is not the first restriction imposed by the Taliban on women’s presence in society over the past 15 months of their rule in Afghanistan.

The group closed secondary schools for girls 414 days ago and have still not reopened them while only a few university faculties can admit women.