Women face ‘violence’ as they hold protest in Kabul over beauty salons closure

Women’s protest in Kabul. Screenshot from protest video.

A group of women staged a protest in downtown Kabul on Wednesday, vehemently opposing the Taliban’s decision to close beauty salons. The protesters called for justice and the preservation of their fundamental freedoms, including the right to work and education.

Disturbing reports emerged suggesting that the Taliban responded to the peaceful protest with violence. Witnesses recounted instances where some protesters were subjected to beatings by Taliban members. The use of force by the Taliban was also cited by sources as a means to disperse the gathering.

In a voice note obtained by Amu TV, one protester questioned the silence of others while recounting the mistreatment of an elderly woman who “bravely” defended their rights. The protester further lamented being alone in raising her voice, as all the women were forcibly dispersed through the use of water cannons and physical assault.

Video footage circulating on social media captured the moment when the Taliban resorted to firing shots into the air in an attempt to scatter the protesters who had assembled in front of beauty salons along a renowned street in the Shahr-e-Naw area of downtown Kabul.

The Taliban’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue justified its decision to close beauty salons for women on July 11, citing religious and economic reasons. In compliance with this directive, beauty salon owners have been given a month to cease their operations. However, women, activists, and foreign envoys have sharply criticized this move, viewing it as yet another encroachment on women’s freedoms and social lives.

The United Nations has expressed its intention to engage with the Taliban to reverse the ban on beauty salons. The deputy spokesperson for the UN secretary-general highlighted the adverse impact this prohibition will have on the lives of women in Afghanistan.

The UN’s request to lift the ban on beauty salon activities represents the latest appeal to the Taliban. However, the response of the Taliban to this request remains uncertain, particularly as they claim to have been invited to the upcoming UN meeting in September. The fate of Afghanistan women’s access to beauty services hangs in the balance, as their fight for autonomy and basic rights persists amidst a changing political landscape.