By Ehsan Popalzai, CNN
The Taliban have banned women from taking long-distance road trips in Afghanistan on their own, requiring that a male relative accompany them for any distance beyond 45 miles, according to a Taliban official speaking to CNN.
Mohammad Sadiq Hakif Mahajer, spokesman for the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, told CNN that the new law — forbidding women from the solo, long-distance road trips — has been instated. He said it was designed to prevent women from coming to any harm or “disturbance.”
The new rules also call on drivers not to allow women without veils to sit in their cars, and say drivers “should stop their cars in a proper place at the time of prayers to perform prayer.”
The Taliban also imposed new rules on music and alcohol; drivers are barred from playing music in cars, and “using or transferring intoxicating things in the car is strictly prohibited,” the rules say.
Since seizing power in August, the Taliban has tried to present a moderate face when it comes to the rights of women as it attempts to restore frozen foreign aid.
But women and girls’ presence in public life has become precarious. Many across the country are not being allowed to return to secondary schools. Those that have resumed university classes are separated by a curtain from their male peers.
Restrictive rules like a stay-at-home order, which was touted as being temporary, have dragged on. Most women still can’t go back to work, having been barred from an array of jobs, including in government and entertainment television.
In November, women were barred from appearing in television dramas, soap operas and entertainment shows under the Taliban’s new media restrictions. Among the directives, women news presenters must now wear headscarves on screen. Similarly, men on screen must wear “proper clothes,” although the guidelines do not specify which types of clothes are considered “proper.”
The Taliban also abolished the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, a key body in promoting women’s rights through Afghan laws. They’ve also rolled back the Elimination of Violence against Women Law, signed in 2009 to protect women from abuses — including forced marriage, leaving them without recourse to justice, according to the UN.
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CNN’s Eliza Mackintosh contributed to this report.