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Afghanistan's new ruling power, the Taliban, has banned women from travelling further than 45 miles without a male family member present.
Despite pledging to be more progressive than the Taliban of 20 years ago, the group's Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has declared today that “women seeking to travel anything other than short distances should not be offered transport if they are alone”.
It also banned the playing of music in cars.
And assistance to anyone wishing to travel further should be offered only to those wearing “Islamic hijabs”.
Taliban ministry spokesman Sadeq Akif Muhajir said: “It must be a close male relative.”
The advice comes just a few weeks after the ministry banned television channels from showing dramas and soap operas featuring women actors, and forced female television journalists to wear hijabs while presenting.
Human Rights Watch blasted the guidance.
“This new order essentially moves further in the direction of making women prisoners," said Heather Barr, the group's associate director of women's rights.
“It shuts off opportunities for them to be able to move about freely, to travel to another city, to do business, or to be able to flee if they are facing violence in the home.”
Since taking power in August, the group has imposed various restrictions on women and girls, despite pledging a softer rule compared with their first stint in power in the 1990s.
In several provinces, local Taliban authorities were eventually persuaded to reopen schools, but many girls still remain cut off from secondary education.
The UK is yet to recognise the Taliban as the official new government of the country.
IN September, just after the hostile takeover of Afghanistan, then-Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “The approach that we are taking is we don't recognise the Taliban as a government, but we do see the importance of being able to engage and have a direct line of communication.
“The reason being is clearly there are a whole range of issues that need to be discussed, including first and foremost at the moment the question of safe passage of British nationals and the Afghans who worked for the UK government.
“We need to be able to convey direct messages on these things. We need to be able to have that dialogue.”
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