Badakhshan beauticians feel the pinch as business slumps

The economic crisis in Afghanistan has taken a heavy toll on the beauty industry in the northern province of Badakhshan, with some reporting an 80 percent drop in business.

Manizha Bahar, 35, set up her beauty salon in the provincial capital Faizabad seven years ago. However, she has seen a sharp decrease in business since the fall of the previous government.

“My dreams to expand my business remain incomplete. Afghan Taliban came into power, and the majority of women now do makeup at their homes for their wedding parties and events due to the poor economic situation. In the past, we had a lot of customers and sometimes we could not get to everyone; they used to come back the next day. But, now, we have three to four brides come for makeup each month and pay a very little amount of three to 4,000 afghanis,” Bahar said.

She said beauty salons used to get 10,000 afghanis for each bride for their makeup and they had five to six customers each week. Now, however, she said she is barely able to cover her expenses and is not able to pay salaries for eight employees.

Meanwhile, a number of customers said that they cannot afford to pay beauty salons for makeup.

“If the cost of my makeup would exceed 3,000 afghanis, the groom would not pay for it, and I hardly could convince the groom to pay for my makeup. Because the economic situation of the people in Badakhshan is very bad, makeup expenses are hefty for the people,” Binafsha, a bride, said.

The restrictions on Afghan women and the pressures of the Taliban’s vice and virtue directorate on women and girls have also had an impact on the beauty salon industry.

Prior to the Taliban taking control, there were at least 15 salons in Faizabad. Now however there are only eight left.

Samia Neghat, a beautician in Faizabad city, raised her concerns about the treatment of Taliban’s vice and virtue employees, stating that they visit salons every day and threaten beauticians for “promoting western makeup among women.”

“I have no hope of keeping my beauty salon and will close it soon. Because I don’t have customers and the Taliban come every day and complain about our work and say that we shouldn’t implement western culture here. They have constantly threatened my customers and now I lost all my customers,” Neghat said.

Masuma, another beautician, also expressed her concerns about the situation of women in the province.

“The Taliban don’t let women do makeup, they consider it haram (forbidden). We lost all our customers. But as the New Year approaches, some women come for hair coloring and other things,” she added.