Women providing services within a beauty salon

‘We are dead inside:’ Women in Afghanistan protest Taliban ban of beauty salons

The ban will come into effect in five days, leaving roughly 60,000 women out of work.

The World

Women in Afghanistan went to the streets this week to protest a ban on beauty salons.

The Taliban had ordered all beauty salons closed by the end of the month.

The protesters say thousands of women will be jobless, some of whom are the only breadwinners of their families.

“Work, bread, justice.”

Three simple demands from women in Afghanistan.

That’s what they were chanting yesterday at the protest in Kabul.

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A small group gathered outside beauty salons. A source of income that roughly 60,000 women will lose in the coming days.

The women wore face coverings to hide their identity and stood side by side, forming a wall to protect one another in case of attacks from the Taliban.

It didn’t take long for the security forces to respond.

Taliban forces fired gunshots in the air and sprayed the women with water cannons.

Masumeh Amiri, owner of a beauty salon in Kabul, said that the Taliban forces used tasers to disperse women and that protesters planned to go to the Taliban officials in person and plead for a change in their decision.

But they didn’t get far.

 “They want to eliminate women from society,” Amiri said.

In the past two years that the Taliban have been in power in Afghanistan, they have banned women from getting higher education and working for international NGOs. They have also restricted their presence in public.

Yesterday, as women protested, Afghan media reported that the group has prohibited female students from taking the university entrance exam.

Women in Afghanistan have said that this is an all-out war.

“We are really scared,” Fatima, a 40-year-old salon owner, told The World. She didn’t want her full name used for this interview out of fear of the Taliban.

Every day, she said, they come out with a new restriction, erasing women from society.

A tax cab in the forefront of a woman walking down the street past a closed beauty salon
FILE – A woman walks past beauty salons with window decorations which have been defaced in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021. A spokesman at Afghanistan’s Vice and Virtue Ministry said Tuesday, July 4, 2023, the Taliban are banning women’s beauty salons. Rahmat Gul/AP

The Taliban respond to any protest with violence, but Fatima said women are fed up and have nothing to lose.

“We are walking dead,” said Fatima. “That’s why we continue to protest.”

The Taliban’s response to criticisms about the ban on beauty salons has been confusing.

Mohammad Akif Muhajir is the spokesman for the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

He told Afghan media that women should have paid attention to the letter sent out by the ministry, recently, banning beauty salons.

The group has also said that salon services are against Islam. They’ve argued that the costs for bridal services impose an unfair burden on the grooms’ families.

No other Islamic country has banned women’s beauty salons.

Fatima, the salon owner in Kabul, finds these excuses ridiculous and she said women will continue to fight back.

“What’s next,” she asked. “Probably a ban on women breathing.”

Related: After Taliban ban, women NGO workers in Afghanistan struggle to make ends meet

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