Since Monday, the Taliban authorities have decided to ban restaurants with gardens or green spaces for women and families, following complaints from religious scholars and members of the public about the mixing of sexes in public. . According to the same complainants, women there would not wear the hijab or the Islamic headscarf correctly.

Reached by La Presse in Vancouver, Lauryn Oates, executive director of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, defends this argument. “The reason given by the Taliban is a tactic they use whenever they want to implement new rules,” she said. Every day a new rule is added. This is part of a pattern to erase women from public spaces. »

When they returned to power on August 15, 2021, the Taliban expressed intentions of openness in order to build international credibility. But as of September 2021, the right to education for girls aged 12 and over is suspended. In December 2022, access to universities is prohibited for women. Since December 24, 2022, they can no longer work for non-governmental organizations (NGOs). And for a few days, they can no longer work for the UN. They are also banned from public places, hammams and training rooms. Also in Herat, we stopped issuing them driving licenses.

No. On May 12, 2022, dispatches from Herat indicated that the Taliban authorities had banned men and women from eating together in restaurants, including married couples. The directive came from the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. But after three days, the Taliban regime denied the news and said men and women could eat together again.

Because the city is considered progressive within this country with an ultra-conservative regime. “Herat is a populous province with influence. Elsewhere, in Afghanistan, we look at what is happening there, says Lauryn Oates. It is an educated province, close to Iran, with several schools for girls. It is perhaps because of this more liberal culture that the Taliban wanted to bring people to heel. »

“No,” Mrs. Oates replies. The Taliban are not used to governing. Their way of doing things is inconstant and distracted. In the province of Ghor, neighboring Herat, we do not want NGOs and we are hostile to them. Whereas in other provinces, we ask them to be there, to set up programs and we will give them the help of the police. That said, power is in the hands of the Taliban in Kandahar, who are the most conservative. »

First, there are few restaurants, because the majority of people are very poor, recalls Lauryn Oates. “Several have closed their doors,” she said. Among those that remain open, diversity is the exception, either because we follow the rules dictated by Kandahar or simply because the owners impose them on their own. A recent New York Times article describes a popular Kabul restaurant where men and women eat on separate floors. In February, an Afghan entrepreneur, Samira Mohammadi, also attracted attention with her Wawa restaurant in Kabul, which is open only to women and where all the staff are female. Mrs. Mahommadi hired several orphaned, widowed and penniless women.

On Sunday, December 8, 2019, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Municipalities and Rural Affairs announced that the state was ending an old tradition of separating men and women at the entrance to restaurants and country cafes. This easing was part of the reform initiatives launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.