Women's Rights

'Heartbroken': Afghan women devastated by beauty parlour ban

By AFP and Salaam Times

Thousands of beauty parlours across Afghanistan closed permanently July 25, following an order by Afghan authorities that cuts off one of the few revenue streams available to women, as well as a cherished space for socialising. [AFPTV/Stringer/AFP]

KABUL -- Shirin booked her bridal makeover weeks ago, but instead of relaxing as beauticians pampered her, everyone in the Kabul salon was on edge, ready to hide the bride should the police appear.

Shirin was the last customer at a salon in Kabul, one of thousands across the country shuttered on Tuesday (July 25) by order of authorities.

"I have someone on watch outside ... If something happens, we'll put her in the bathroom or store room and look busy packing," salon owner Aziza said.

"Even if they put me in prison, I will do her makeover because I promised her."

Afghan women walk past a closed beauty parlour in Kabul on July 25. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

Afghan women walk past a closed beauty parlour in Kabul on July 25. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

Afghan women peek through the door of a vacated beauty parlour in Kabul on July 25. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

Afghan women peek through the door of a vacated beauty parlour in Kabul on July 25. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

As some beauticians fluttered around Shirin, others were busy packing up the salon.

Like tens of thousands of other parlour employees, they have been pushed from one of the last remaining areas of work open to women now.

The ban on beauty parlours is the latest blow not only to women's earning capabilities -- with salon owners and workers only their households' only source of income -- but also to their social lives.

"We were heartbroken when we heard salons were closing because they were places where we not only took care of our appearance, but we could see friends and make new ones, chat and ease our sorrows," said 21-year-old Bahara, a salon customer in Kabul.

"Women are not allowed to enter entertainment places, so what can we do? Where can we go to enjoy ourselves? Where can we gather to meet each other?"

Girls and women are banned from attending high school and university, barred them from visiting parks, fun-fairs and gyms and have to cover up in public.

Women have also been mostly blocked from working for the United Nations or NGOs, with thousands sacked from government jobs or being paid to stay at home.

All doors closed

Kamela started working in a salon a year ago when she lost her media job and was no longer able to continue her education. As the sole breadwinner for her family of five, the 19-year-old does not know what she will do without her beauty parlour paycheck.

"Closing beauty salons means all doors are closed to me, which means I cannot work and live as a woman in Afghanistan," she told AFP this week, braiding the long black hair of one of the salon's last clients.

"Maybe tomorrow the [authorities] will say that women are not allowed to breathe."

Manizha, 28, poured time and money into growing her own salon since 2018, training some 200 women to work in the industry and also to become "self-sufficient".

Now her current 25 employees, all the main earners in their families, are back to square one, and Manizha must watch as her efforts go to waste.

"I worked so hard, and now my achievement is reduced to nothing," she told AFP.

"I stayed in the country and paid taxes to the government, and now it is closing down our beauty salon. It is such a shame; this is a huge blow to the country's economy and to us."

In the weeks before the ban went into effect, women rushed to salons to have their hair dyed and eyebrows shaped -- their last chance to do something for themselves.

The Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice claimed extravagant sums spent on makeovers caused hardship for poor families and that some treatments -- such as eyelash extensions and hair weaving -- were un-Islamic.

But beautician Najla felt the work was a good, ethical living.

"I was doing a good job; I was able to get a bit of bread to take home. What will I do now?" said the orphan, who looks after her siblings.

"What do they actually want from us? They have closed all the places to women. Maybe one day they'll just say, 'Whenever a girl is born, bury her alive.'"

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The closure of male exhibitions really saddened the hearts of Afghan women and workers! On one hand, women are responsible for supporting their families, and on the other hand, tens of thousands of Afghani is spent on each shop, and this was a very big and hard blow that Afghan women suffered from. It is hoped that these women will be allowed to work again with the framework and conditions.


This was the last blow to women's work. The last hope of Afghan women recently was to work in a hair salon. Many women became unemployed. The women of the beauty parlors were the only women who were not miserable in the last two years. They also became miserable and displaced thanks to the current government. With respect, Lima


This life is not permanent. Everyone goes to his own grave. God forgives his sinners, but he does not forgive those who harms his servants. So everyone should think about his own failures. By closing classrooms, beauty salons, recreation centers, wherever women were in charge, no one will go to heaven and Sharia will not be implemented. Everyone has a sister, mother, wife and daughter at his home. Please don't take it upon yourself to harass the sisters, mothers and daughters of the community. Before this, there are many other things that need to be done and through which the country can be served.


With the closure of the beauty salons, 60,000 beauticians became unemployed. These women had regular jobs, but the Taliban took them away, and if they did anything, the Taliban would be responsible. It is said that forcing a person to be unemployed remains a crime, but it has become 60,000. The Taliban commit atrocities, and they show it well. No one can stand in front of them. America, which is involved in these stories, has kept its mouth shut, and she shares all restrictions and limitations they imposed. All these occurred after signing the Doha Agreement behind closed doors. I am not angry with the ruling system and the senior officials, and I know that Afghanistan will turn into hell, but I am angry with the men, including myself, who do not say anything. Neither they care about their sisters nor their mothers or daughters. Whatever the Taliban say, we accept it with closed eyes.


The main point is that the ruling government has only humiliated Afghan mothers and sisters. If you can't find a job for someone, then there is work, but don't take it from him, cruel! There is a day of reckoning; what will you answer to God?