The Taliban require all mannequin heads to be covered or cut off. Interviews with locals and eerie photos of storefronts offer a glimpse into Afghanistan’s new reality.

A mannequin head is covered at a women's dress shop in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, December 26, 2022.

A mannequin’s head is covered at a dress shop in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, December 26, 2022.AP Photo/Ebrahim Norooj

  • Veiled, headless mannequins are a sight to behold in fashion shops across Afghanistan.

  • Store owners say Taliban restrictions are affecting the psyche of female shoppers.

  • Afghans say life is difficult under the Taliban and shows no signs of improvement.

Women have been forced into cover since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021. Currently, all gender mannequin faces must also be hidden.

A mannequin head is covered at a women's dress shop in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, December 26, 2022.

A mannequin’s head is covered at a dress shop in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, December 26, 2022.AP Photo/Ebrahim Norooj

Over the past two years, the Taliban has Gradually eliminate women from public space. Being a woman in Afghanistan means being invisible. Women are not allowed to work or go to school and are forced to wear veils in public.

Taliban moves to restrict women’s rights in Afghanistan Vandalizing storefronts that display images of women. Today, the Taliban have stepped up these efforts by trying to ban mannequins, seemingly inconspicuous objects.

Insiders have been working with locals in Kabul, including shop owners, female athletes and Afghan-born academics, to find out why the Taliban want to destroy the mannequins and how it affects the lives of both Afghan men and women. I talked to people.

In Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, mannequins were once a symbol of fashion and culture. But for the past year, the shop owner has resorted to displaying headless and cloth-covered objects just to keep the store open.

Mannequin heads are covered at a women's clothing store in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, December 26, 2022.

A black plastic bag covers the head of a mannequin dressed in an evening gown in Afghanistan, Monday, December 26, 2022.AP Photo/Ebrahim Norooj

In August 2021, the Taliban announced that the shopkeeper mannequin head must be removedor obsolete them all together.

However, some shopkeepers pleaded with the Taliban to leave the mannequins intact. The Taliban agreed, but on one condition. All mannequins must cover their faces.

One such shop owner is Faisal Azizi. Before leaving to study political science and government at Dartmouth College in March, he ran a family business selling traditional Afghan clothing.

Azizi told an insider that the Taliban forced locals to tamper with banners displaying pictures of fashion models before attempting to ban the use of mannequins outright.

The Taliban human form According to a strict interpretation of Islamic law, it is prohibited.

But experts like Bahar Jalali, an Afghan-born professor of modern Middle Eastern history, A professor at Loyola University in Maryland believes the mannequin-staining movement is part of an extremist ideology that attacks individual liberty and removes what appears to be normal from Afghan life.

“Even under the most conservative Afghan regimes of the past, mannequins were part of the cityscape,” Jalali, who fled Afghanistan after the 1979 Soviet invasion, told Insider that the Taliban used the appearance of women as offensive. He added that he considers it offensive and embarrassing.

Shop owners now use a variety of materials to cover mannequin faces: lace, cloaks, and even black plastic bags.

Mannequin with Afghan hood and cloak.

Mannequin with Afghan hood and cloak.AFP via Stringer/Getty Images

Some shopkeepers in Afghanistan resort to using aluminum foil or paint to hide the mannequin’s face, but Azizi still feels it’s important for the mannequin to look stylish. Azizi continues to run the shop from America with the help of her brothers in Afghanistan.

Because mannequins are expensive, they are valuable commodities for shopkeepers. Azizi estimates they will cost between $200 and $300 each.

“I’m trying to match the color of the dress to make it look like a mask,” Azizi said.

No matter how fashionable shop owners try to look, Azizi feels that the requirement affects shoppers’ psychology.

“Sales are completely down at the moment,” he said, adding that sales at his store have dropped by 50% to 70% since the restrictions began.

“When people go to the store and see a cover they don’t want to buy,” he added.

For many Afghan women, shopping under the Taliban regime is a difficult experience in itself. Like mannequins, they follow many rules.

Tape wrapped around a mannequin's head in Afghanistan.

Tape wrapped around a mannequin’s head in Afghanistan.Nava Jamshidi/Getty Images

In Afghanistan, women are required to be accompanied by a man whenever they leave the house, and shopping is no exception, Jalali said.

Marwa Ali, a 21-year-old footballer who grew up in Kabul, said many women like her have gone through harrowing journeys from their homes to apparel shops. Ali declined to share her current location for security reasons.

“I went shopping in my own car with my brother, but the Taliban forced me to leave the front seat of the car and sit in the back,” Ali told Insider. mask or face covering.

Ali said she misses shopping in relaxed clothes and that browsing fashion stores doesn’t make her feel “alive” the way she used to.

“We don’t want to cover the faces of women or mannequins,” she said.

To keep its female employees protected, Azizi often makes them behave like shoppers during spot checks by the Taliban.

A mannequin head in a clothing store in Afghanistan.

A mannequin head in a clothing store in Afghanistan.AFP via Stringer/Getty Images

Azizi said it was dangerous for women to run a store in Afghanistan. Those who are captured are often subjected to violence.

“You can’t argue with them. They come with guns.”

Working women are being harassed, he said. Azizi likened her treatment of Taliban women to living in “cages” where they “can’t go out.”

Some of Azizi’s female employees are widows. He explained that many of their husbands had died while serving in the now-defunct Afghan National Army.

A veiled mannequin in an Afghan apparel shop.

A veiled mannequin in an Afghan apparel shop.Courtesy of Faisal Azizi

Life as a husbandless woman is even more difficult in a patriarchal society like Afghanistan.

Azizi said living under Taliban rule is a balancing act. Shop owners need to “be kind to them” for their business to survive, but they also need to hire female workers to help families in need.

“My business feeds 40 to 50 families,” he said. “Women are not allowed to work. There are no protocols. But I try to take care of my employees.”

For Marwa Ali, who lost her father 12 years ago, the challenges are daily.

“There are many women, like my mother, who do not have working husbands. said Ali.

The future of mannequins and women under the Taliban remains bleak.

Close up of traditional Afghan clothing.

Close up of traditional Afghan clothing.Courtesy of Faisal Azizi

Azizi said the mannequins may be just the tip of the iceberg, adding that he expects the Taliban to impose more restrictions over time.

“For the sake of the local economy, the Taliban need to be nice to the local people. But once they stabilize, in three or four years, they will ban everything,” he said.

Jalali said the Taliban’s plan was to keep women out of public view. She sees mannequins as just another example of widespread attacks on women and their presence in public.

“Being a woman in Afghanistan is like being under house arrest without the opportunity for education, employment, freedom of movement and a basic sense of normalcy,” she added.

Read the original article at business insider