Rebellious Afghan women launch fashion protest against Talibans burqa rules

After the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan in August, one of the hard-line islamist group’s first acts was to crack down on women’s freedoms.

In particular, they enforced the wearing of heavy burqas that covered women’s bodies and faces almost completely.

But now a group of Afghan women are rebelling against the oppressive clothing rules, and wearing what they say is real traditional Afghan dress.

They’re flooding social media with photos of themselves in the colourful embroidered dresses that women of their war-torn country would have worn in the past.

Afghan-born make-up artist Marjan Yahia, 28, now lives in Canada and can freely post images of herself wearing the clothes and makeup of her choice without fear of the Taliban’s heavy-handed “morality police”.

“This is traditional Afghan clothes, ones that I wear proudly, that I have the ability to wear peacefully here while the women in my home of Afghanistan are forced to cover themselves,” Marjan wrote.

“I stand for the women of Afghanistan, that have, and continue to suffer at the hands of the Taliban.”

Historian Bahar Jalali launched the campaign after seeing a group of women in the identity-erasing full-face veils marching at a pro-Taliban rally in Kabul.

“I was very concerned that the world would think that those clothing worn by those women in Kabul was traditional Afghan clothing, and I don’t want our heritage and culture to be misrepresented,” she told AFP.

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She said: “Afghan women don’t wear hijab.

“We wear a loose chiffon headscarf that reveals the hair. And anybody who’s familiar with Afghanistan history, culture, knows that the clothing worn by those women have never been seen before in Afghanistan.”

At present, women seen in public without the compulsory burqa and a male escort risk being beaten or whipped by Taliban enforcers.

Women demanding the right to work have been viciously assaulted by the Taliban. One, who gave her name to the BBC as Sara, said: "They tell me not to go for protests. They [the Taliban] will kill you.

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"I fought with my brother to attend the march on Wednesday. It's important that we raise our voice. I'm not scared. I will keep going again and again and again, until they kill us. It is better to die once than die gradually."

The only people not suffering from these drastic restrictions are the owners of shops selling burqas.

“Last year these burqas cost 200 Afghanis [about £2]. Now they’re trying to sell them to us for 2,000 to 3,000,” one Afghan woman, named Aaila, told the Guardian.

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