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For women in Afghanistan, life has gotten a whole lot worse since President Biden ordered U.S. troops out of the country in 2021 in a botched withdrawal that cost 13 American servicemen their lives alongside those of countless Aghani citizens.
The disaster lowered our standing in the world and left the country in charge of the notorious ultraconservative political and religious faction, the Taliban, who quickly began imposing their strict, repressive views on the population—especially women.
Now they’re forcing shopkeepers to cover the faces of mannequins—male or female—or even better, simply chop their heads off. The Taliban insists on a hardline interpretation of Islamic law, and believe that statues and images of the human form violate the Koran.
The images are creepy:
The Taliban requires all mannequins’ heads be covered or cut off. Eerie storefront photos offer a glimpse of Afghanistan’s new reality.
Shop owners in Afghanistan were forced to decapitate their mannequins or remove them altogether. They pleaded to veil their faces instead. pic.twitter.com/MhDf5p0HOT
— Freedom (@MassAdi15176401) February 1, 2023
For the past two years, the Taliban has gradually erased women from public spaces. Being a woman in Afghanistan means being invisible. Women are not allowed to work, go to school, and are forced to wear the veil in public.
The Taliban’s move to restrict women’s rights in Afghanistan began with vandalizing storefronts displaying images of women. Today, the Taliban have ramped up these efforts by trying to ban a seemingly inconspicuous object: mannequins.
In Kabul, the Afghan capital, mannequins are commonplace and signify the people’s love of fashion and culture. Says Bahar Jalali, an Afghan-born professor of the history of modern Middle East at Loyola University Maryland:
“Even under the most conservative Afghan regimes of the past, mannequins were part and parcel of the urban landscape,” Jalali, who fled Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion in 1979, told Insider, adding that the Taliban sees the figures of women as offensive and shameful.
Shop owner Faisal Azizi describes how store owners are now trying to make the masked or headless mannequins stylish to attract customers by using paint or aluminum foil to cover the faces:
“We try to match it to the color of the dress, to make it look like a mask,” Azizi said. “We can’t just put a plastic bag — it looks like you’ve abducted someone.”
☀️This is what mannequins look like in women’s clothing stores in Afghanistan.
The Taliban allowed the sellers to cover the faces of the mannequins — all imaginable and not very means are used.#TalibanTerrorists #USA #EUROPE #European pic.twitter.com/GCbpuryfOA
— 📚The Story Teller (@I_am_the_Story) January 29, 2023
Azizi adds that despite such efforts, dress sales at his store (which he runs from the U.S. with his brothers, who are still in Afghanistan) are down 50-70 percent since the restrictions went into effect. Making things worse, women must be accompanied by a male and cover their faces whenever they venture outside. The joy of shopping has evaporated for many, so they simply don’t do it as much.
It’s just part of the ongoing effort by the repressive regime to simply eradicate women from normal life, and turn them into invisible sub-humans who exist merely to deliver babies and be subservient.
She [Jalali] sees the mannequins as just one more example of the broader attack on women and their presence in the public sphere. “Being a woman in Afghanistan will be the equivalent of being under house arrest with no opportunity for education, employment, freedom of movement, and basically no sense of normalcy,” she added.
Afghanistan is a tragedy, and while you can’t blame the whole thing on Joe Biden, he and the U.S. certainly did their part to send this country back to the stone age.
Watch as shopkeepers do their best to survive under the tyranny:
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