Taliban impose new rules on women
The Associated Press, December 2,1998

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The Taliban religious army today ordered bus drivers to hide female passengers behind curtains -- the latest edict in the group's campaign to impose its strict interpretation of Islamic law on this central Asian country.

The Taliban also warned bus drivers against fraternizing with female passengers, telling jokes or displaying posters.

In a broadcast on Taliban-run Radio Shariat, the group ordered buses carrying only women to be shrouded in curtains. It also said a curtain should hide the driver from the female passengers.

Men and women must travel in separate buses in Kabul, with about half of the estimated 200 buses in the capital reserved for each sex. Women are barred from driving.

But drivers have been lax in following the Taliban's rules.

For example, the broadcast said some drivers have been playing music, an offense that is punishable by a public beating. Other drivers have had long hair and or wore "shiny clothes.''

"The driver should be dressed in simple clothes, nothing shiny and his hair should be short and he should wear a cap and not be seen by his women passengers,'' said the broadcast.

The deputy head of the religious police, Maulvi Mohammed Sharif Haqqani, also warned bus drivers to hire only young boys below 15 to collect bus fare from women. Even then, the boys should not mingle with the women.

The Talibans now control 90 percent of Afghanistan. As it has imposed its harsh rule, the Taliban has been especially restrictive toward women, forcing them off the job, out of school and into long robes called burqas that cover them from head to toe.

Religious police today patrolled the bus depots in the city to ensure the latest edicts were being enforced.

"It is like a cage . . . no one can see the driver and no one can see the women,'' said one bus driver, who gave his name only as Mushtaq.

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