The United Nations Security Council is set to convene on Thursday to discuss the Taliban’s order for women to cover up from head to toe in public, a move that signals Afghanistan’s return to hardline Islamist policies originally enacted by the terrorist-linked organization prior to 2001.
During the Taliban's previous reign, which lasted from 1996 to 2001, the group placed similar restrictions and other harsh measures on women under penalty of physical punishment and death.
According to Reuters, the United Nations special envoy for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, is due to brief the 15-member council. Norway’s mission to the UN requested a closed-door meeting “to address the increased restrictions on human rights and freedoms of girls and children.”
Despite the edicts set by the Taliban, most women in Afghanistan’s urban areas like Kabul do not cover their faces.
The Norwegian government condemned the Taliban’s decree, warning that the group is leading Afghanistan into a “humanitarian, economic, and human rights catastrophe.”
In March, the UNSC issued a statement regarding the rights of girls and women in Afghanistan, which was retaken by the Taliban following U.S. President Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal of the U.S. military. Members of the council called on the Taliban to uphold girls’ existing right to education, expressing concern over the restrictions on female students above 6th grade to attend secondary classes and higher education in the country.
Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, the group stated it would form an “inclusive” government and respect women’s rights, but it has thus far reneged on its promises.
The Taliban backtracked on its prior announcement that high schools would open for girls, stating instead that they would remain closed until a plan was drawn up in accordance with Sharia law for them to reopen.
“Then 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,” Reuters reported.