While there has been no official confirmation by Taliban authorities, local media reports cited by news agencies said verbal orders have been issued to stop giving driving licences to women.
“We have been verbally instructed to stop issuing licences to women drivers... but not directed to stop women from driving in the city,” Jan Agha Achakzai, the head of Herat’s Traffic Management Institute that oversees driving schools, was quoted as saying to AFP on 3 May.
Since its takeover of the country in August last year, the Taliban have doubled down on curtailing women’s rights including imposing curbs on their movement without a chaperone and stopping girls’ education.
In March, the Taliban told airlines that women cannot board domestic or international flights without a male chaperone.
In the same week, the Taliban also backtracked on their previous commitment to open high schools to girls, a move that has drawn widespread condemnation.
Women in Herat said they feel safer while driving their own cars than traveling in taxis.
#AFG Taliban have suspended issuing driving licences to women in Afghanistan. While Saudi Arabia continues with its modernisation drive, the Taliban continue to engage in regressive and non- priority issues. There must be more important issues facing Afghanistan than this matter. pic.twitter.com/tufDhNCbIZ
— BILAL SARWARY (@bsarwary) May 3, 2022
“I personally told a Taliban [guard] that it’s more comfortable for me to travel in my car than sit beside a taxi driver,” Shaima Wafa told AFP.
Prior to the Taliban takeover last year, women in Afghanistan were seen driving cars.
Adila Adeel, a 29-year-old woman driving instructor in Herat, said: “We were told not to offer driving lessons and not to issue licences.”
Despite its curbs on women’s rights, the Taliban earlier stated that it had changed since its previous rule from 1996 to 2001 in which they barred women from education, work or leaving the house without a male relative.
They claim to “allow” women their rights in accordance with Islamic law and Afghan culture.