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Afghan Women Protest New Burqa Decree Despite Taliban Threats

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The group of women's rights activists protested against the Taliban's latest decree on the streets of Kabul on May 10.

KABUL -- Several dozen women's rights activists have protested a Taliban order making it mandatory for women to wear the all-covering burqa, including face veils, when they are in public.

The women marched through the streets of the capital, Kabul, on May 10 holding signs calling for justice despite intimidation attempts by Taliban operatives, who threatened them with violence.

"We were faced with harsh behavior by the Taliban. It was terrifying...They even told us if we move one step forward, they will fire 30 rounds at us," one women said in a video made by the group, called Afghanistan's Powerful Women's Movement.

The decree, announced on May 7, calls for women to only show their eyes and recommends they wear the head-to-toe burqa. Head scarves are common for most Afghan women, but in urban areas such as Kabul, many do not cover their faces.

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Afghan Women Protest Latest Taliban Restrictions
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Failure to comply will result in a woman's father or closest male relative being reprimanded, imprisoned, or fired from employment.

It immediately sparked criticism from many Afghans and the international community amid an outcry over the erosion of human rights in the country, especially for women and girls.

"Under the latest draconian decree, Afghan women are ordered to follow full veil and avoid unnecessary movement. This violates fundamental human rights of women to chose what to wear & move freely," Amnesty International's South Asia department said in a tweet a day after the measures were announced.

"Despite continued assurance of Taliban de-facto authorities that they respect women & girls rights, millions of women & girls are exposed to systematic gender based discrimination," it added.

The UN Security Council will meet on May 12 to discuss the order.

Deborah Lyons, UN special envoy for Afghanistan, is to brief the 15-member council, according to Norway's UN mission, which requested the closed-door meeting "to address the increased restrictions on human rights and freedoms of girls and women."

Girls have been banned from school beyond the sixth grade in most of the country since the Taliban’s return last August. In March, the Taliban ordered girls' high schools closed on the morning they were scheduled to open.

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