The Taliban terrorist group, which seized power in Afghanistan, has banned women from visiting public baths in the provinces in the north of the country. writes The Guardian.
On January 3, a spokesman for the “Ministry for the Promotion of Islamic Virtue and Prevention of Vice” Sardar-Mohammad Haidari announced that women would be banned from baths in Balkh and Herat provinces. Residents of Herat confirmed that the ban has already begun in some baths. Another Taliban commander told The Guardian, speaking on condition of anonymity, that the authorities should focus on “a larger fight.”
Residents of Afghanistan fear that the ban on visiting the baths will be extended to other regions of the country.
A visit to the baths (hamams) is an ancient tradition, which for many people in Afghanistan remains the only way to keep warm during the winter cold. In addition, women regularly use baths for ritual cleansing after menstruation, childbirth and intercourse, as prescribed by Islamic norms.
According to UN forecasts, by mid-2022, 97% of the Afghan population may be below the poverty line. However, even in such conditions, women continue to visit the baths and pay an entrance fee of 40 Afghani (about $ 0.4).
The Taliban takeover of power in August 2021 plunged Afghanistan into a humanitarian crisis. Tens of millions of Afghans face hunger and lack the means to buy firewood or coal to heat their homes during the colder months. Most households do not have access to water from public pumps. Water is also delivered by water carriers.
In December, Mary-Ellen McGroarty, director of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) in Afghanistan, said that 22.8 million Afghans of the country’s nearly 40 million people are constantly undernourished, and 8.7 million people are starving. Overall, according to WFP, 98% of Afghans currently “do not consume enough food”.
During the first rule of the Taliban in 1996-2001. women were also prohibited from using public hammams.