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Reflections on new hijab for Afghan women

Adeze Ojukwu

The new dress code, requiring all Afghanistan women to wear a full hijab, by the Taliban, is still sparking angry reactions across the globe.

United Nations Women and other civil rights groups, as well as prominent Afghan have expressed their displeasure, over the draconian law.

It is not only reprehensible, but repressive and a violation of rights of the women.

However, the truth is that this is not just a political problem.

It is rooted in the ancient and quaint philosophy of the Taliban imperialism, which many other societies have jettisoned.

The UN and all concerned groups need to address the broader political and systemic root causes that have long perpetuated discriminations and undermined human rights, in Afghanistan, and nations that share their values.

It is imperative to deal with religious and cultural practices, that undermine human rights, empowerment of women, girls and children in Afghan, some Arab countries, Nigeria and all such jurisdictions.

Taliban had few days back, issued the decree, imposing further restrictions on Afghanistan women and criminalising their clothing.

Aljeezera TV gave a vivid background of the new regulation.
“In their latest decree, the Taliban say it is required for all respectable Afghan women to wear a hijab.”

“While the Taliban have always imposed restrictions to govern the bodies of Afghan women, the decree is the first for this regime where criminal punishment is assigned for violation of the dress code for women.”

“The Taliban’s recently reinstated Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice announced on Saturday that it is “required for all respectable Afghan women to wear a hijab”, or headscarf.The ministry, in a statement, identified the chadori (the blue-coloured Afghan burqa or full-body veil) as the “best hijab” of choice.”

“Also acceptable as a hijab, the statement declared, is a long black veil covering a woman from head to toe.”

The ministry statement provided a description: “Any garment covering the body of a woman is considered a hijab, provided that it is not too tight to represent the body parts nor is it thin enough to reveal the body.”

“Punishment was also detailed: Male guardians of offending women will receive a warning, and for repeated offences they will be imprisoned. If a woman is caught without a hijab, her mahram (a male guardian) will be warned. The second time, the guardian will be summoned [by Taliban officials], and after repeated summons, her guardian will be imprisoned for three days,” according to the statement.

Akif Muhajir, a spokesman for the ministry, said that government employees who violate the hijab rule will be fired.

And male guardians found guilty of repeated offences “will be sent to the court for further punishment”, he said.

Candidly, the protection of rights of women in Afghanistan and extremist nations including parts of northern Nigeria, remains a mirage.

•Ojukwu is a Fellow of Hubert H Humphrey Fellowship, journalist and advocate for improved socio-economic services and rights for all citizens, particularly women and girls, as articulated in the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGS).
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