Tuesday, March 28

Taliban bar Afghan women from flying alone

The taliban have ordered at airlines from Afghanistan to refuse to board women unless they are accompanied by a male relative, which is a new restriction of the freedoms of Afghan women that have been diminished in seven months of Government.

Since their return to power on August 15, the Taliban have gradually erased 20 years of freedom won by women, despite promises to be more flexible than during their first regimen (1996-2001), when women were deprived of almost all their rights.

Quickly Afghan women were excluded from many public jobs and they controlled their way of dressing. They also arrested and women activists arrested – some for several weeks – who had demonstrated for women’s rights. The so-called back to school for high school girls was a fiasco as it was called off before it started. The last restriction refers to air travel.

Two managers of Ariana Afghan Airlines and Kam Air told AFP on Sunday night that the Taliban had prohibited them from issuing tickets to Afghan women if they were not accompanied by a male relative for their trip. A letter sent by a senior Ariana Afghan Airlines official to company staff, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, confirms that these new instructions apply to all flights.

“Without a Male Relative”

“No woman can fly on domestic or international flights without a male family member,” the letter said. Two travel agencies contacted by AFP also confirmed that they had stopped issue tickets to women who wanted to travel alone.

Some “traveling without a male family member were not allowed to board a Kam Air flight from Kabul to Islamabad on Friday,” a passenger on that flight told AFP. It was not clear whether the new directive also affects foreigners, but local media reported the case of a Afghan woman with a US passport who was prevented from flying last week.

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At the end of December, the taliban fundamentalists Afghan women had already been banned from traveling more than 72 kilometers in the country, unless accompanied by a male relative.

“An Order from our God”

This new restriction comes days after the Taliban decided close secondary schools for girlsjust after its long-announced reopening.

Afghan women’s rights groups are planning protests if the Taliban don’t reopen these schools this week. The crackdown on Afghan women and girls is “not a substitute for governance,” Rina Amiri, the US special envoy to Afghanistan, said on Twitter. She called on the Taliban to “create a culture of hope instead of a culture of fear.”

Another restriction was announced on Sunday by the feared Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice: the separation of women and men in public parks in Kabul, with visiting days imposed for each gender. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays are now reserved for men and Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays for women.

“It is not an order from the Islamic Emirate, but the order from our God that unrelated men and women do not meet in the same place,” Mohammad Yahya Aref, a ministry official, told AFP.

The Taliban also appear to have targeted the local mediawhich flourished under previous US-backed regimes.

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On Sunday, they ordered the Afghan televisions associated with the BBC to stop broadcasting in Pashto, Persian and Uzbek. “As foreign television channels are broadcast from abroad, the Islamic Emirate has no access to control their content, especially when it comes to the clothing of journalists,” Taliban spokesman Inamullah Samangani told AFP.

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“Sometimes they also spread content that had problems with our religious values, Afghan culture and national security interests,” he added. “Another chilling event (…) Another repressive measure against the Afghan people,” the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan denounced on Twitter, regarding the cessation of these programs.


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