Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities said Sunday that women seeking to travel long distances should not be offered road transport unless they are accompanied by a close male relative.
The guidance issued by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice drew condemnation from rights activists and called on vehicle owners to refuse rides to women not wearing headscarves.
The move follows the Taliban barring many women in public-sector roles from returning to work in the wake of their August 15 seizure of power, and as girls remain largely cut off from state secondary schooling.
It also comes despite the hardline Islamists seeking to project a moderate image internationally in a bid to restore aid suspended when the previous government imploded during the final stages of a US military withdrawal.
“Women travelling for more than 45 miles (72 kilometres) should not be offered a ride if they are not accompanied by a close family member,” ministry spokesman Sadeq Akif Muhajir told AFP on Sunday, specifying that the escort must be a close male relative.