KABUL, 5 Jan 2022:
Clothes shops in the Afghan province of Herat have begun to chop off the heads of their mannequins after the Taliban government’s ministry of propagation of virtue and prevention of vice urged the owners to enforce this measure – arguing that human-like figures are against Islamic law.
“We told shopkeepers if they want to display clothes on the mannequins, they have to cut off the head, which will not create problems for showing the clothes,” said the ministry director Shaikh Abdul Aziz.
He added that “covering the head of mannequins is not enough” for complying with the rules.
However, he insisted that the authorities had only “advised and suggested” the decapitation of the figurines and not asked for them to be destroyed.
So far these rules have only been issued in Herat, although after the Islamist regime took control of Afghanistan in August, female figures have gradually disappeared from shop windows across the country.
“In this stage, our statement is only a recommendation but with the passage of time if the shopkeepers do not follow the rules, we will treat them based on our rules and regulation,” Aziz said.
Images of vendors chopping off the heads of the female figures have already begun to circulate on social networks, while many shopkeepers confirmed implementing the measure due to the fear of being punished by the Taliban.
“We received the letter regarding cutting the head of all mannequins whether they are male, female or that of a child and some of the shopkeepers have already started implementing this in their shops,” a salesman said on the condition of anonymity.
“The mannequin is a normal thing throughout the world and Afghanistan, I have several clothes stores and around 50 mannequins that I use in my cloth stores, which cost me around US$80-100 each. This decision would cause a huge loss,” another trader revealed.
The ministry of propagation of virtue and prevention of vice was one of the most feared institutions of the first Taliban government in Afghanistan (1996-2001) – due to their harsh measures that largely restricted women indoors, banned music production and severely punished any perceived violation of Islamic law.
The powerful institution was shut down after the Taliban regime fell due to the US’ invasion.
It was reinstated after the Islamist’s victory in the conflict, and is now being run from what used to be the ministry of women during the last two decades.
After seizing power again, the Taliban have asked taxi drivers to not ferry women not wearing the veil, apart from banning “immoral” films and removing women’s faces from shop-fronts.