Women lose value if they show their faces in public, Taliban official says

A Taliban government spokesperson has said that women lose value if men can see their uncovered faces in public.

Molvi Mohammad Sadiq Akif, the spokesperson for the group’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue, said an interview with the Associated Press that women’s uncovered faces would make people falling into sin.

“It is very bad to see women (without the hijab) in some areas (big cities), and our scholars also agree that women’s faces should be hidden,” Akif said. “It’s not that her face will be harmed or damaged. A woman has her own value and that value decreases by men looking at her. Allah gives respect to females in hijab and there is value in this.”

Akif’s comments come amid growing restrictions on women and girls in Afghanistan since the Taliban took control of the country in August 2021.

The Taliban have barred women from most public spaces, including parks, jobs and education beyond primary schools. It has also imposed a strict dress code that requires women to cover their faces and bodies in public.

Despite global outrage, the Taliban has refused to reverse or ease restrictions on women and girls.

Marking the group’s second anniversary of retaking power, the former British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said that the International Criminal Court should prosecute Taliban leaders for crimes against humanity for denying education and employment to girls and women.

“All these bans are a form of discrimination. It’s probably the most heinous, most vicious, most comprehensive abuse of human rights in place around the world today.” Gordon Brown told the BBC.

“It’s right then for the International Criminal Court, which has responsibility for dealing with crimes against humanity, to both investigate and prosecute those responsible.” He added.

According to the Associated Press, Akif did not answer questions about the group’s over 50 restrictions on women and girls, including whether any of them could be lifted if there were to be universal adherence to hijab rules. He said there were other departments to deal with these issues.

Akif said the ministry faced no obstacles in its work and claimed that people supported its measures.

“People wanted to implement Sharia (Islamic law) here. Now we’re carrying out the implementation of Sharia.” All the decrees are Islamic rulings and the Taliban have added nothing to them, he said. “The orders of Sharia were issued 1,400 years ago and they are still there.”