UN Security Council to meet over Taliban order for women to cover faces

UN special envoy for Afghanistan to brief 15-member council on the escalation of restrictions

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The UN Security Council will meet on Thursday to discuss an order by Afghanistan's Taliban for women to cover their faces in public.

The Taliban announced the decree, made by its supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, in Kabul on Saturday. It said: “Those women who are not too old or young must cover their face, except the eyes, as per Sharia directives, in order to avoid provocation when meeting men who are not mahram [close male adult relatives]”.

It signifies a return to a signature policy of the Taliban's past hardline rule.

Deborah Lyons, the UN's special envoy for Afghanistan, is expected to brief the 15-member council on the escalation of restrictions, Norway's UN mission said.

The Norway mission requested the closed-door meeting "to address the increased restrictions on human rights and freedoms of girls and women".

Under Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, women were forced to cover their faces and could not work, while girls were banned from school.

After seizing power in August, the group promised to respect women's rights.

But in March, the Taliban backtracked on their announcement that high schools would open for girls, saying they would remain closed until a plan was drawn up for them to reopen.

Mr Akhundzada said if a woman did not cover her face outside home, her father or closest male relative would be visited and face the possibility of being jailed or fired from state jobs.

Most women in Afghanistan wear a headscarf for religious reasons, but many in urban areas such as Kabul do not cover their faces.

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Updated: May 11, 2022, 7:46 AM