Afghanistan: Arrest of women, girls by Taliban for ‘hijab’ violations increases, say activists

Women’s protest in Kabul. File photo.

Women’s rights activists report that the Taliban’s arrests of women and girls for alleged dress code violations have not only continued but also increased in recent days.

The arrests began earlier this month, with dozens detained in various parts of Kabul, as well as in Daikundi, Bamiyan, and Balkh provinces. According to activists, the Taliban has arrested some women and girls for wearing white veils, and in some cases, even those wearing burqas have been inspected to ensure compliance with dress code standards.

The Taliban’s dress code, advocated by members of its Ministry of Vice and Virtue, requires women to wear black hijabs that cover them from head to toe and avoid what the group deems as “thin” dresses.

Most arrests in Kabul have occurred in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood in the west, Makrorayan in downtown, and Khairkhana in the north.

On Saturday, Jan. 27, some families told Amu News Agency that they have restricted the movement of women and girls in their families due to fear of arrest by the Taliban.

A Taliban spokesperson has cautiously denied such arrests.

Mohammad Akbari, deputy of the Shia Ulema Council in Kabul, criticized the Taliban’s arrests at an event last week, questioning their benefit to the people.

Tahira Ahmadi, a women’s rights activist, said, “In the last few days, Afghan women and girls have been arrested for wearing white veils under various pretexts, and even women’s burqas have been searched.”

Hasina Sarwari, a member of the Afghan Women’s Unity and Solidarity Movement, reported that in Kabul’s Makrorayan, Khairkhana, and Dasht-e-Barchi areas, women and girls are being arrested under the pretext of bad hijab and taken to unknown locations.

Girls in Kabul also expressed their fears to Amu, preferring to stay home to avoid arrest.

A Kabul resident, who wished to remain anonymous, shared, “Life has become extremely difficult. Our family restricts us from leaving the house. Whether wearing hijab or not, women are taken away by the Taliban. We are very afraid.”

The United Nations confirmed in a recent report that it has received reports of such arrests. Amnesty International’s United States branch also reported that many women have been arrested by the Taliban for not wearing the required hijab.