Images of women have been covered up or vandalized on storefronts around Kabul, a sign of the Afghan capital’s rapidly changing face in the days since the Taliban took charge.
The new regime’s terrorists took control of the city on Sunday after a lightning offensive that saw the former government’s provincial strongholds around the country topple like dominoes in a matter of days.
In the two decades since the US-led invasion that ousted that administration in 2001, hundreds of once-forbidden beauty parlors have proliferated around Kabul.
They have plied a trade-in make-up and manicures, serving a clientele of women who had grown up compelled to keep every inch of their body hidden from public view.
But as Taliban forces closed in on the capital, at least one of these stores began whitewashing its outdoor walls to cover up advertisements showing the faces of smiling women in bridal regalia.
Another shuttered salon, spotted on Tuesday as a Taliban fighter patrolled the street outside with an assault rifle slung over his shoulder. They had its walls defaced with black spray paint to conceal the visages of its models.
During their 1996-2001 rule, the Taliban were notorious for banning girls from school, preventing women from working in contact with men, and publicly stoning women accused of adultery to death.
Its ultra-strict interpretation of sharia law also established religious police for the suppression of “vice.”
Since returning to power, the group has pledged to respect women’s rights.
A spokesman for the group in Qatar told Britain’s Sky News that women would not be required to wear the all-covering burqa.
Another representative said the Taliban were “committed to letting women work following the principles of Islam” without offering specifics.
But Afghans and the international community have been skeptical of these promises.
The Taliban’s advance has accompanied reports of unwed women and widows being forcibly married to terrorists– reports dismissed as “poisonous propaganda” by a spokesman.
They have staged demonstrations in cities worldwide in support of Afghan civilians, and women and girls in particular.
One Kabul beauty parlor owner told last month that she expected to be forced to shutter her business if the Taliban returned to power.