Taliban deny women access to public baths in northern Afghanistan



The move is likely to affect many Afghans who depend on hot water facilities for bathing during the winter months.

Critics say move is another attack on women’s freedoms in the country [Getty]

Afghan Taliban leaders earlier this week announced a ban on women using hammams – public baths – in the country’s north.

Sardar Mohammad Heydari, an official of a regional branch of the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, said women in Balkh and Herat provinces would be banned from hammam, the Guardian reported.

The move is likely to affect many Afghans who depend on hot water facilities for bathing during the winter months. The baths are also used by many Afghan women for the ritual baths required by Islamic law.

Critics say the move is another example of the Islamist group restricting women’s freedoms.

“We have a small house with no space for a full bathroom with heated water; that’s why I went to the hammam ”, declared a resident of Herat The Guardian. “Other families may have no bathing facilities and are completely dependent on public baths for cleaning. This opportunity is now taken from them.

Human Rights Watch associate director for women’s rights, Heather Barr, criticized what she described as “the cruelty of denying women the only relief from the cold for no reason.”

“They seem to intend to want to interfere in all aspects of women’s lives. We heard warnings from Afghan women early on that the situation was going to get worse. Today we see evidence that they were right, ”Barr said.

“Why do they think of [stopping] do women go to the hammam when people are starving? she added.

News of the new ban follows reports this week that the Taliban have ordered traders to remove the heads of mannequins. Images of decapitated models appear on social media, prompting further criticism from the group.

Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in mid-August, the country has plunged into financial chaos, with soaring inflation and unemployment.

Billions of dollars in the country’s assets have been frozen by the United States, while aid supplies have been severely disrupted.

Global aid agencies have warned that more than half of Afghanistan’s 38 million people are expected to face hunger this winter.



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