Dozens of Afghan women protested a beauty salon ban Wednesday after the Taliban ordered their closure nationwide. Security forces used fire hoses, tasers and shot their guns into the air to break up the protest.
The Taliban said earlier this month they were giving all salons in Afghanistan one month to wind down their businesses and close shop, drawing concern from international officials worried about the impact on female entrepreneurs. The Taliban say they are outlawing salons allegedly because they offer services forbidden by Islam and cause economic hardship for grooms’ families during wedding festivities.
The ruling came from the Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada. It’s the latest curb on the rights and freedoms of Afghan women and girls, following edicts barring them from education, public spaces and most forms of employment.
In a rare sign of public opposition to Taliban orders, dozens of beauticians and makeup artists gathered in the capital Kabul to protest the ban.
“We are here for justice,” said one protester who identified herself as Farzana. “We want work, food and freedom.”
The Taliban sprayed the women with water and shot their rifles into the air to disperse the protesters.
Farzana later said the women were going to the UN mission in Afghanistan, urging protesters to stay together.
One protester told The Associated Press the demonstration started at around 10 am in the Shar-e-Naw area of the capital. She did not want to give her name for fear of reprisals.
“The purpose of our demonstration was that they (the Taliban) should reconsider and reverse the decision to close beauty salons because this is about our lives,” she said. “All of us, 50 to 60 women, participated. Our slogan was work, bread and freedom.”
The protest continued into the early afternoon, when the Taliban arrived to break up the crowd, she said. They used tasers on demonstrators.
“They put two or three of our friends in the car and took them,” she said.
Nobody from the Taliban-run government was immediately available for comment about the protest.
The UN mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, criticized the Taliban’s dispersal tactics.
“Reports of the forceful suppression of a peaceful protest by women against the ban on beauty salons – the latest denial of women’s rights in #Afghanistan – are deeply concerning,” it said in a tweet. “Afghans have the right to express views free from violence. De facto authorities must uphold this.”