Taliban orders women in Afghanistan to cover face in public

Taliban has ordered all women to veil their faces when in public, returning Afghanistan to the dress code enforced during their previous time in power.

At a press conference, the Afghanistan Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue announced that all women would have to cover their face in public.

The decree also said if women have no important work outside then they should stay at home.

Akif Muhajir, spokesman for the ministry, told the BBC the order was based on the Quran and the life of the Prophet Muhammad.

During the conference, the ministry spelled out punishments for the male guardians of the women who failed to obey the new rules.

The BBC's Secunder Kermani reported that while initially the Taliban appeared to adopt a more flexible attitude to governance, in recent weeks they have been introducing more hardline measures, many of them governing women's everyday lives.

Some of these measure included assigning separate days for women to visit public parks, to men and barring them from undertaking longer distance journeys without a male guardian.

Teenage girls were still not allowed back to school in most of the country.

Whilst women were working in some sectors such as healthcare and education, many others were told not to return to their offices.

For Afghan women's rights activists, it seems as if two decades of achievements have been rolled back.

Former vice president of the national assembly Fawzia Koofi told the BBC the Islamists are depriving Afghan women of a full public life.

"In Islam it says your face and your hands should appear, you only have to cover your head and your body. We have reversed and we are continuously reversing 25 years back. Of course, it's outrageous. For me personally, but for everyone that lives in Afghanistan, for every man and woman," she said.

Koofi says the Taliban has a skewed sense of priorities if they think dress codes were more important than the plight of 35-million starving Afghans.

Meanwhile the main anti-Taliban group in Afghanistan said it has launched a major offensive in 12 northern provinces.

If confirmed, this would amount to the national resistance front's first offensive since the Taliban took control in September 2021.