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Women In Afghanistan Have Been Banned From Flying Without A Male Chaperone By The Taliban

The Taliban have banned Afghan women from flying without a male guardian, this decision has been made the same week as the extremist group stopped Afghan girls attending school.

Taliban bans women from flying alone
The Taliban have instructed airlines not to allow women on board who do not have a male chaperone

The Taliban have instructed airlines in Afghanistan that women are not allowed to board domestic or international flights without a male chaperone. A source with Reuters news agency on Sunday said that the ministry for the propagation of virtue and prevention of vice sent a letter to airlines informing them of the new restrictions.

This comes in the same week that the Taliban also backtracked on their earlier promise to allow girls to attend high schools, a decision that came as heartbreaking for many Afghans as well as drew condemnation from humanitarian agencies and foreign governments.

On Friday, the United States cancelled meetings that it had planned with Taliban officials on key economic issues due to its U-turn on girls being allowed to attend school. US special representative for Afghanistan, Thomas West, called the decision a break of the trust of Afghans and urged the ruling to be reversed.

The sources, who cannot be named for security reasons, also said that unaccompanied women who had already booked tickets would be allowed to travel on Sunday and Monday, however, some women who were travelling alone and had tickets were turned away at Kabul's airport on Saturday.

Spokespeople for the ministry for the propagation of virtue and the ministry of culture did not respond immediately to requests for comment. An administration spokesperson for the Taliban had previously said that women travelling abroad for study should be accompanied by a male guardian.

The Taliban have said that since its rule from 1996 to 2001 it has changed its policies, during its previous rule they barred women from education, work, or even leaving the house without a male relative. The extremist group claims they are allowing women their rights in accordance with Islamic law and Afghan culture.

Their words do not appear to be matching their actions, and restrictions on women in work, the closure of high schools, and the requirement that women have a male guardian for long-distance travel has brought heavy criticism from human rights groups and many Afghan women.

Afghan bikers seen here promoting education for girls
Afghan bikers seen here promoting education for girls

It was not made clear if the restrictions on air travel would allow any exemptions, such as for women with no living male relatives in the country or for those travelling in an emergency, and whether it applied to foreigners or women with dual citizenship.

Global sanctions have been crippling Afghanistan's banking sector while the international community has so far not officially recognised the Taliban administration.

With international sanctions, combined with slashed development funding, Afghanistan has a growing humanitarian crisis.

PenPath, an Afghan charity that runs dozens of "secret" schools with thousands of volunteers, is planning to hold countrywide protests demanding that the Taliban reverse its decision, said Matiullah West, PenPath founder.

UK for Afghanistan, a government support service to Afghans in Britain said: "Another unacceptable measure against Afghan women, following the ban on girls at school and reports of women not being allowed on flights without a mahram (family member). Excluding half the population will not gain the Taliban legitimacy, stop the brain drain or reverse economic collapse."

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