December 8, 2021


Only The Finest Women

What next for Afghanistan’s deserted beauty salons?

Natural beauty salons have provided jobs for women of all ages across Afghanistan, but with the Taliban back in electrical power, their foreseeable future seems bleak

* Attractiveness parlours painted around immediately after Taliban takeover

* Salons have served empower Afghan females

* Magic formula salons opened in the course of Taliban’s very last rule

By Bahaar Joya and Emma Batha

Sept 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Soon following the Taliban seized Kabul, gunmen frequented Sadaf’s attractiveness salon and threatened to shoot her in the face just before smashing the entrance window.

“I was definitely shaking and frightened. I have been at household ever since,” claimed Sadaf, a 40-year-outdated widow who relies on the cash flow from her salon to assist her five little ones.

When the Taliban past ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 they shut down natural beauty parlours and flogged women of all ages in community for violating stringent dress codes that required them to cover their faces.

After the Islamist militants ended up ousted, salons opened across the place, giving work for several females.

As the Taliban retook manage on Aug. 15, photos of glamorous designs adorning beauty parlours have been painted over – in some situations by small business house owners fearing reprisals. Pictures of the defaced images went viral on social media.

Sadaf started doing work as a hairdresser immediately after her partner died of a heart assault in 2015. It meant she did not have to marry her husband’s brother in get to feed her kids – a widespread destiny for lots of widows in the patriarchal state.

“Finance is anything for a girl, it is electric power,” said Sadaf, who questioned to use a pseudonym.

“This work gave me standing and electrical power in excess of my husband’s family members. I stood up for my legal rights and aided my youngsters,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by mobile phone from Kabul.

A 6-month attractiveness course funded by a U.N. company and the Afghan federal government boosted her abilities and earnings, letting her to open up her have salon offering hairstyling, make-up, manicures, pedicures and beneficial wedding ceremony makeovers.

Manizha Wafeq, president of the Afghanistan Gals Chamber of Commerce and Sector (AWCCI), reported hairdressing was a preferred job since it was a customarily appropriate profession for women, and properly-paid out.

A girl running even a pretty modest salon can make $200-$300 a thirty day period – far more than 2 times what numerous teachers get paid, she reported.


Like other salons, Sadaf’s company did not just give elegance providers, but was also a put for women to satisfy.

“They would come and speak about their troubles, their hopes, and even their fights with their spouse or mother-in-law,” she stated.

“At times there was laughter and joking, occasionally even crying.”

Sadaf, whose customers included housewives, embassy employees, U.N. staff and Tv set presenters, would engage in Bollywood and Afghan tunes as she worked.

Songs, dancing and television have been banned in the 1990s below the Taliban’s severe interpretation of Islamic regulation.

In the northern metropolis of Mazar-i-Sharif, Madina also misses the camaraderie at her salon wherever a Television entertained shoppers with the Afghan Tunes Channel, which shows boys and girls singing and dancing collectively – conduct the Taliban would abhor.

“I had a coffee desk where by women would chat more than a cup of tea or chilly drink. We called it Gossip Corner,” she stated.

The 29-calendar year-old mom-of-two has eradicated her salon signal with a drawing of a produced-up female and all photographs from the home windows.

“Emotionally, this has influenced me a good deal. I missing my shoppers, most of whom had grow to be actually good pals,” mentioned Madina, who is now dependent on her taxi driver spouse.

She does not assume to return any time before long.

“I sense at risk now mainly because of my job. The Taliban imagine I am committing a sin. They believe a lady carrying make-up in general public can arouse a guy,” she mentioned.

When they were past in power, the Taliban sometimes minimize off women’s fingers for carrying nail polish and flogged them for accidentally exposing their ankles or toes.

“They brutally beat gals on the streets with sticks and lashes if they (broke the regulations),” Madina stated.


Taliban officials have explained they will not return to their fundamentalist policies and that gals will be capable to operate in accordance with Islamic legislation, but have not clarified what this suggests.

Though the Taliban have not manufactured any statement about salons, Madina and Sadaf did not know of any that ended up open.

However, AWCCI reported some Kabul salons were quietly working, and that the Taliban had been imposing different regulations in distinct locations.

Afghanistan’s elegance marketplace is fuelled by the central position of engagement and marriage events in the country’s culture, just lately bolstered by a booming homegrown manner market.

The spectacular make-up and elaborate coiffures – seriously motivated by Bollywood and Arab models – just take several hours to ideal.

A total wedding day makeover can value $400, with substantial-conclusion salons charging double that.

“Afghan women have generally been really specific about their physical appearance – even beneath their burqas,” claimed Shaima Ali, 64, a hairdresser from Kabul who now lives in the United Sates.

When the Taliban closed elegance parlours in the 1990s, Ali said some beauticians established up underground salons.

Even Taliban wives visited them, hiding their new variations beneath their all-enveloping burqas.

Ali learnt about the underground salons when she went back again to Afghanistan in 2003 to instruct at a natural beauty university that was established up immediately after U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban.

The broken country Ali returned to was a far cry from the Afghanistan she knew in the 1970s when young ladies like her walked all-around Kabul in miniskirts, platform sneakers and dyed blonde hair.

At the splendor college, she taught pupils modern day hairdressing and make-up approaches so they could set up their own corporations.

The academy was the subject matter of a bestselling ebook “The Kabul Natural beauty College” – published by an additional trainer, Deborah Rodriguez – which gave a exceptional glimpse of Afghan women’s property lives.

Ali reported wedding day functions and celebrations experienced nevertheless continued below the Taliban, and the key salons offered an essential income for women of all ages who had been banned from instruction and do the job by the militants.

“They were being generating excellent revenue – in some cases a large amount extra than their husbands,” she additional.

In Kabul, Sadaf is terrified to reopen her salon, but has already begun looking at close shoppers at her household.

“This is the only occupation I can do,” she mentioned. “If the Taliban would not allow for us to get the job done they need to feed my household.”

    Connected stories:

    What will take place to girls’ education in Afghanistan underneath Taliban rule?

    Young Afghan gals defiant as Taliban carry again moral law enforcement

    ‘Fashion is resistance’: The Afghan designers championing conventional costume

(Reporting by Bahaar Joya and Emma Batha in London Producing by Emma Batha @emmabatha Enhancing by Helen Popper. Be sure to credit history the Thomson Reuters Basis, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers the life of people all over the planet who struggle to live freely or quite. Check out http://information.rely

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