The Taliban’s religious police have put up posters denigrating women’s choice of dress

The Taliban religious police in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan, have put up large placards across the city claiming that Muslim women who do not wear full veils are “trying to look like animals”.

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Since returning to power last August, the Taliban have imposed a series of restrictions on civil society, many aimed at subjugating women to their fundamentalist views of Islam.

In early May, the Taliban’s supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, issued an edict that women must cover themselves fully, including the face, in public, ideally with the burqa, a full-body veil with a fabric mesh at eye level.

He also said women should stay at home as a matter of principle.

This week the dreaded Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Kandahar City, birthplace of the Taliban, put up large posters depicting two women with their faces covered, one wearing a burqa and the other wearing a veil that only reveals the eyes.

“Muslim women who do not wear a full veil try to look like animals,” reads the signs, which are particularly posted near shops or at major intersections.

“Wearing short, tight and thin clothing is also against the decree,” the Taliban leader added.

“We have put up these posters all over the city and (for) women whose faces are not covered, we will notify their families and take action according to the decree,” official Abdul Rahman Tayebi told AFP from the ministry in Kandahar.

According to the decree of the Taliban supreme leader, the first two offenses are punished with a simple warning to the heads of families, the third sentences the latter to three days in prison and the fourth they are brought before justice.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, on Wednesday criticized the Taliban regime’s “systemic institutionalized oppression” of Afghan women and girls, whose situation is now “critical”.

Returning to power after 20 years of occupation by the United States and its allies, which they ousted in 2001, the religious fundamentalists had promised to be more flexible this time, but they quickly broke their promises and gradually eroded women’s rights again .

Tens of thousands of schoolgirls have been expelled from Afghan secondary schools and many women in the public sector have been prevented from returning to work.

In addition, women have been banned from traveling alone and are only allowed to visit public parks and gardens in Kabul on certain days, the others reserved for men.

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