The Taliban has ordered airlines in Afghanistan to prevent women from boarding flights unless accompanied by a brother, airline officials told AFP.
The latest restrictions on women follow the closure of all girls’ secondary schools on Wednesday just hours after they were allowed to reopen for the first time since hardline Islamic groups seized power in August.
Two officials from Afghanistan’s Ariana Afghan airlines and Kam Air said late Sunday that the Taliban had ordered them to stop boarding women if they were traveling alone.
The decision was taken after a meeting on Thursday between representatives of the Taliban, two airlines and airport immigration authorities, the official told AFP, asking not to be named.
Since the Taliban returned to power, many restrictions on women’s freedom have been reintroduced – often implemented locally at the behest of regional officials from the Ministry of Welfare Promotion and Prevention of Vice.
The ministry said it had not issued any directive prohibiting women from taking flights alone.
But a letter issued by senior Ariana Afghan official to the airline’s staff after a meeting with the Taliban, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, confirmed the new move.
“No woman is allowed to fly on any domestic or international flight without a brother,” the letter said.
Two travel agents contacted by AFP also confirmed they had stopped issuing tickets to solo female travelers.
“Some women who were traveling without a brother were not allowed to board the Kam Air flight from Kabul to Islamabad on Friday,” a passenger who was on the flight told AFP.
An Afghan woman with a U.S. passport was also not allowed to board a flight to Dubai on Friday, other sources said.
The Taliban has already banned inter -city road travel for women traveling alone, but so far they are free to board flights.
The Taliban have promised a softer version of the hardline Islamic rule that characterized their first period in power from 1996 to 2001.
But since August, they have withdrawn two decades of profits made by Afghan women.
Women were squeezed out of most government jobs and secondary school education, as well as ordered to dress according to the strict interpretation of the Quran.
Tens of thousands of girls flocked back to class on Wednesday after school reopened, but officials ordered them home hours before the day, sparking international outrage.
Authorities have yet to give a clear reason for the reversal of the policy.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)