Female Hairdressers Flee Afghanistan due to Taliban Restrictions and Poverty

In the past two decades, female beauty salons were a lucrative source of income for women and girls, who used the money to support their families and even attend college. However, since the Taliban‘s arrival on August 15, 2021, these salons have seen a sharp decline in business.

Several female hairstylists have closed their salons in various districts of Herat province due to threats from the Taliban, while others have left Afghanistan because of a lack of income. Those who continue to work despite the Taliban‘s threats and warnings have reported a decrease in their business income. They have stated that, if the Taliban continue to impose restrictions on women, there will no longer be any female hairstylists left in Afghanistan.

The female hairdressers of Herat recall the last few weeks of their work during the Republic. They report that, upon the Taliban‘s entrance to Herat City, the signs for women‘s hair salons were removed and a number of restrictions were imposed on them. The majority of hair salons were closed for two months following the Republic government‘s fall on August 15, 2021, due to fears of the Taliban. After two months, some female hairdressers eventually resumed their work, though the profession is not as lucrative as it was during the former republican regime in Afghanistan.

In an interview with Hashte Subh, Laila, who is in charge of one of the Herat women‘s hair salons, stated that she attended a private college while working as a hairdresser during the Republic. She noted that the collapse of the Republic had a detrimental effect on her business, with payments for hairdressing decreasing over the years. Laila further noted that social issues, Taliban restrictions, and financial hardships have caused a decrease in the number of women who visit the salons. She mentioned that she was able to support her family and pay for her education with the money she earned as a hairdresser.

When the Taliban arrived, female hairdressers were so fearful that they did not show up for work for two months, causing the hair salon to close. All the women who came in for makeup thought it would never open again, but after two months, the salon was able to open again. The Taliban scratched the portraits and signs, which were then removed. Poverty has caused women to be less likely to go to hair salons. During the republic, the majority of the clients were government workers, women related to highranking officials, and young women who could support themselves. Now, up to 80% of female hairdressers in Herat have been reduced, including the costumes. Laila reported that she used to make up 25 to 30 customers a day during the republic, but now it does not even reach six.

Due to the Taliban regaining control of the country, the imposition of more stringent restrictions on women, and the prevalence of poverty, some female hairdressers in Herat have abandoned their profession, while others have been compelled to leave Afghanistan.

Fatema, a 23yearold female hairdresser who coowned a women‘s hair salon in Herat‘s eighth district with eleven other girls and women, told HashteSubh in an interview that she had completed her internship at the same hair salon before the Taliban took control and imposed restrictions on women. She earned up to 6,000 Afghanis per week, but was forced to quit her job at the hairdresser after the Taliban‘s takeover of Afghanistan. She said,One day, a Taliban ranger pulled up close to the hair salon, and Taliban members arrived at the entrance and attempted to break in, but the women stopped them and closed the gate. When we asked the Taliban what they wanted, they replied that they wanted to arrest us. The Taliban may have had other intentions since there was no complaint filed against our salon.”

Fatema additionally stated that the salon owner closed the salon and travelled to Iran following the event and the decrease in profits. Prior to the Taliban‘s takeover, the salon had around 50 customers daily, however, afterwards, there were only around 10. Fatema mentioned that she had recently been given her share of approximately three thousand AFN when a bride had come in for makeup. In the past, the cost of a bride‘s makeup could not be less than 10,000 AFN.

Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, they have imposed numerous restrictions on women, including prohibiting them from attending secondary and high schools, universities, and working in national and international organizations; visiting parks; visiting public female bathhouses; and travelling without a male member of their family.

Recently, the Taliban‘s Directorate for Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Parwan province has mandated that women‘s hair salons require clients to perform ablution prior to applying makeup and to abstain from using chemicals that impede prayer.