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To The Taliban, 'Even A Lipstick is a Threat'.

The war on women continues in Afghanistan with the Taliban's Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Protection of Vice (aka morality ministry) banning beauty salons across the country. August this year was the last month for any salon operating. When I read the news I was confused at the seeming pettiness of it. What harm were women causing with eyebrow shaping, facebeats and hair flicks? On the surface it seems harmless, indeed. But I was wrong to underestimate the power of spaces where women gather together freely. The Taliban, it turns out, knows the power of a lipstick.

'The ban is a real blow to the remaining dignity and freedom of these women'

Even if you haven't been playing close attention the the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan almost two years ago you might not have escaped the headlines telling the world of women being banned from university, gyms, public baths, parks, amusement grounds and, recently, traveling without a male 'guardian'. The last one struck me as particularly insidious. After this, the Taliban defaced posters of women outside beauty salons - rubbing out their faces and scratching out their eyes. This wasn't the first time beauty salons have been banned, it follows a similar ruling in the 90s. Aqeela, a salon owner, removed the defaced posters and was allowed to open again, Grazia UK reported. But she knew what was next. 'It seems the Taliban just want to wipe women out. There is nothing left for us. Even a lipstick is a threat'.

This last line was a powerful one that hit me. It seems ridiculous to be so obsessed with the limitation of women to say that makeup, hair extensions and eyebrow shaping are 'un-Islamic'. But the truth is, the ban is a real blow to the remaining dignity and freedom of these women. Beauty salons weren't flourishing due to the economy, and women being banned from most work as well as earning much less, but they were the last strongholds of sisterhood that existed. Aqeela mentions that many women did not even come for treatments but just to be able to 'be themselves'.

This inspired an artwork depicting lipstick as war paint. Indeed, a woman with full control over her body who is free to support her family and herself as well as travel, is a threat to any governing body that seeks to oppress instead of uplift its people.


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