Afghanistan's Taliban authorities said on Sunday that women seeking to travel anything other than short distances should not be offered transport unless they are accompanied by a close male relative.

The guidance, issued by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, also called on all vehicle owners to offer rides only to those women wearing hijabs.

“Women travelling for more than 45 miles (72 kilometres) should not be offered a ride if they are not accompanied by a close family member,” ministry spokesman Sadeq Akif Muhajir told AFP on Sunday, specifying that it must be a close male relative.

The guidance, circulated on social media networks, comes weeks after the ministry asked Afghanistan's television channels to stop showing dramas and soap operas featuring women actors.

The ministry had also called on women TV journalists to wear hijabs while presenting.

Muhajir said on Sunday that the hijab would also be required for women seeking transport. The ministry's directive also asked people to stop playing music in their vehicles.

The Taliban's interpretation of the hijab — which can range from a hair covering to a face veil or full-body covering — is unclear, and the majority of Afghan women already wear headscarves.

Since taking power in August, the Taliban have imposed various restrictions on women and girls, despite pledging a softer rule compared with their first stint in power in the 1990s.

In several provinces, local Taliban authorities have been persuaded to reopen schools — but many girls still remain cut off from secondary education.

Early this month, the group issued a decree in the name of their supreme leader, instructing the government to enforce women's rights.

The decree did not mention girls' access to education.

Activists hope that the Taliban's battle to gain international recognition and get aid flowing back into one of the poorest countries in the world will lead to them making concessions to women.

Respect for women's rights has repeatedly been cited by key global donors as a condition for restoring aid. Women's rights were severely curtailed during the Taliban's previous stint in power.

They were then forced to wear the all-covering burqa, only allowed to leave home with a male chaperone and banned from work and education.

Opinion

Editorial

Uncertainty remains in Punjab
Updated 02 Jul, 2022

Uncertainty remains in Punjab

With the latest verdict, the judiciary seems to have unintentionally entered the political arena, which is not desirable.
Turbulence in tech
02 Jul, 2022

Turbulence in tech

THE party seems to have cooled considerably for the Pakistani start-up scene. With some of the world’s biggest...
Environmental cost
02 Jul, 2022

Environmental cost

THE collective impact of climate-disaster-health hazards are already taking a huge toll on Pakistan’s fragile...
Udaipur killing
Updated 01 Jul, 2022

Udaipur killing

The crime committed in Udaipur did not happen in a vacuum.
Unacceptable demand
Updated 01 Jul, 2022

Unacceptable demand

Negotiating with extremists is tricky; no peace treaty with them has lasted beyond a few months.
Tough times ahead
01 Jul, 2022

Tough times ahead

THE finance ministry’s projection of 15pc inflation, much higher than the targeted rate of 11.5pc, during the new...