The Taliban will have to live up to their obligations on the rights of women if they want acceptance, the Foreign Office has said.
It follows the announcement that Afghanistan’s Taliban leadership has ordered all Afghan women to wear the all-covering burka in public.
An FCDO spokesperson said: “Responsibility for what happens in Afghanistan lies with the Taliban.
“We will judge them by their actions, not their words. If they want international acceptance, they must live up to their obligations and commitments, particularly on the rights of women and girls.”
The move evokes similar restrictions imposed on women during the Taliban’s previous hardline rule between 1996 and 2001.
AP reported that Khalid Hanafi, acting minister for the Taliban’s ministry of vice and virtue, said: “We want our sisters to live with dignity and safety.”
It’s a very depressing day for anyone who cares about equality for women and girls or the future of Afghanistan
Polly Truscott, Amnesty UK
The Taliban previously decided against reopening schools to girls above grade six (around 11 years old), reneging on an earlier promise and opting to appease their hardline base at the expense of further alienating the international community.
Shir Mohammad, an official from the vice and virtue ministry, said: “For all dignified Afghan women wearing Hajib is necessary and the best Hajib is chadori (the head-to-toe burka) which is part of our tradition and is respectful.
“Those women who are not too old or young must cover their face, except the eyes.”
The decree added that if women have no important work to be done outside, it is better for them to stay at home.
Polly Truscott, Amnesty UK’s international affairs director, said: “Women and girls in Afghanistan have been forced out of office, out of the classroom and now out of sight.
“Making women cover their faces against their will is the nail in the coffin for their hard-won advances in equal rights made there over the last 20 years.
“This is what Afghan women’s activists have been warning about since the Taliban came back to power and the international community must now wake up.
“The Taliban recently imposed a total ban on girls receiving any sort of education after the age of 10 and this latest betrayal of promises means there can be no pretence that this is anything other than the most extreme, hardline administration.
“It’s a very depressing day for anyone who cares about equality for women and girls or the future of Afghanistan.
“All international levers must be used to try and push for basic rights to be reinstated.”
The Foreign Office spokesperson added: “The UK has taken a leading role in the humanitarian response in Afghanistan and will continue to do so.
“We have doubled UK aid to Afghanistan this year to £286 million to provide urgent life-saving assistance.”