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Afghanistan: Women protest Taliban ban on beauty salons

July 19, 2023

Gun shots were fired in the air during a rare public demonstration in Kabul against an order to ban beauty parlors. Protesters said the Taliban guards also sprayed water on them to break up the demonstrations.

Afghan women stage a protest for their rights at a beauty salon in the Shahr-e-Naw area of Kabul
In a rare sign of public opposition to Taliban orders, dozens of beauticians gathered in the capital Kabul to protest the banImage: AFP/Getty Images

Dozens of Afghan women took to the streets in downtown Kabul on Wednesday to protest the Taliban's ban on beauty salons.

Taliban forces used fire hoses, tasers and shot guns into the air to break up the protest, according to reports. 

At least 60 women took part in the demonstrations, which grabbed the attention of guards as public protests are a rare event in Afghanistan

In late June, Taliban authorities ordered thousands of beauty parlors nationwide run by women to be closed within one month's time, claiming the services offered are forbidden by Islam.

'The Taliban took a few women away'

Videos and photos shared by the protesters showed many women carrying placards reading "food," "justice," and "work". 

 Dozens of Afghan women protested a beauty salon ban on Wednesday
The protest continued into the early afternoon, when the Taliban arrived to break up the crowdImage: AFP/Getty Images

One of the protesters on Butcher Street, a popular locality for beauty salons, carried a sign saying "don't take my bread and water," AFP news agency reported. 

In one video, a woman is confronting a Taliban guard who used water cannon to disperse the protesters. Gunfire can also be heard in the background. 

"We wanted our right to work and the cancellation of the order. But the Taliban responded with water cannons and aerial firing and took away a few girls," a beauty artist told dpa.

UN mission says forceful suppression is concerning

Taliban officials were not available for comment about the protests. 

Meanwhile, the UN mission in Afghanistan criticized the Taliban's actions in removing the protesters. 

"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.

Since seizing power in 2021, the government has barred girls and women from high schools and universities, banned them from visiting parks and gyms and also ordered them to cover up in public. 

ara/wmr (AP, AFP, dpa)