Tearing Down Safe Spaces: The Taliban Bans Beauty Salons

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An Afghanistan beauty salon (Image Credit: ABC News)

Beauty salons represent one of the few remaining safe spaces for women in Afghanistan, untouched by Taliban Rule. This was the case until June 24, 2023, when the order to ban all beauty salons in Afghanistan was announced. The time frame for all salons to close has been set at July 27, around one month after the order was given out. 

The spokesman for the Taliban-run Virtue and Vice Ministry, Sadiq Akif Mahjer, would go on to justify this ban by explaining how beauty salons provided services that were against Islam, such as eyebrow shaping and changing a woman’s natural hair and application of make-up, which would affect the required ablutions that came before offering prayers. He would also explain how salons would be too expensive for groomsmen and their families, who are required to pay for a visit to the salon for the bride and her close female relatives. 

This ban follows the Taliban’s previous acts of restricting access to education, employment, parks, gyms, and the ability to move freely in society for women, which United Nations experts have called “egregious systematic violations of women’s rights.” 

Reactions to this ban have been overwhelmingly negative, with many commentating that this ban could harm countless Afghans, particularly women, who operate or are employed because of beauty salons, which this ban would result in a loss of employment for them. Amena Sharifi, the owner of a Kabul salon who is the only one that can financially support her family since her husband became unemployed after the Taliban took power in August 2021, voices her concerns

“The beauty salon was our only income, and now I don’t know what to do. How we should pay for our expenses?”

She also explained that the three other women whose families relied on them for income would also lose their wages. In addition to Amena, around 60,000 women are predicted to lose their jobs because of this ban. Murwarid Ziayee, senior director of the NGO Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, provides additional comments on the harm this ban may inflict. 

“This will put thousands of women and their families at the risk of starvation. Most of them are the only breadwinners of their family.”

International reactions to this ban have also been wholeheartedly adverse, especially from the United Nations, which claimed it was communicating with Afghanistan authorities to revoke the ban on beauty salons. The UN mission in Afghanistan reportedly said on Twitter, “This new restriction on women’s rights will impact negatively on the economy & contradicts stated support for women entrepreneurship.”

Written by Kevin Han

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