Top UN official ‘gravely concerned’ by Taliban decree requiring women to cover their faces

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A United Nations official on Monday warned of her grave concerns for women’s rights in Afghanistan after the Taliban required women to cover their faces in public.

“I am gravely concerned by the Taliban’s announcement that all women must cover their faces in public, that women should only leave their homes in cases of necessity, and that violations of this directive will lead to the punishment of their male relatives,” UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous said in a statement.

“Where women’s rights are constrained, everyone is diminished,” she added. “The latest directive by the Taliban is a further escalation of restrictions on women and girls, including impeded return to work and inability to pursue their education.”

Bahous also urged de facto authorities “to respect their obligations under human rights law and the full human rights of women and girls, including the immediate restoration of women’s and girls’ independent freedom of movement, and their rights to work and to education to the highest level.”

The Taliban’s latest decree requires women to be covered in head-to-toe clothing in public. Should they disobey the directive, male relatives face punishment ranging from a summons or court hearing to jail time.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield has also condemned the Taliban’s recent restrictions, calling them “unconscionable.”

“You know, it shows again what the Taliban are capable of,” Thomas-Greenfield said in a Sunday interview with CNN. “We said from day one, we will judge them by their actions, not their words. And these actions, on Mother’s Day, I think sends a very chilling message across the world.”

“What they did today is unconscionable. And I am sure that we can expect more from them,” Thomas-Greenfield added.

Since that Taliban took over Kabul last year, the country’s economy has been in crisis and concerns have mounted over violations of the human rights of women and girls.

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