The United Nations Security Council will meet on Thursday to discuss an order by Afghanistan’s Taliban for women to cover their faces in public, a return to a signature policy of the Islamist group’s past hardline rule and an escalation of restrictions. U.N. special envoy for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, is due to brief the 15-member council, said Norway’s U.N. mission, which requested the closed-door meeting ‘to address the increased restrictions on human rights and freedoms of girls and women’.
Under the Taliban’s previous rule from 1996 to 2001, women had to cover up, could not work, and girls were banned from school. But after seizing power in August, they vowed to respect women’s rights. However 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 in accordance with Islamic law for them to reopen.
Post this, on Saturday, the group’s supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, said that if a woman did not cover her face outside home, her father or closest male relative would be visited and face potential prison or firing 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.