A Timeline of Horror: 100+ Taliban Edicts, Orders and Directives Denying Afghan Women and Girls Their Human Rights and Existence

Afghan women stage a protest for their rights to mark International Women’s Day, in Kabul on March 8, 2023. (AFP via Getty Images)

The Taliban has issued over 100 edicts stripping Afghan women and girls of their most basic human rights and opportunities, effectively putting them under house arrest.

Taliban edicts and orders originate from multiple sources within the Taliban hierarchy.

  • Some are given by the Taliban supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, who remains secluded in Kandahar and is never seen by the Afghan people. His decrees and orders primarily pertain to the courts and security services, although they often address other matters, including women’s issues.  
  • The Ministry of the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue, also known as the Ministry of Vice and Virtue, is another key issuing authority. They focus predominantly on aspects of social and public life—particularly on regulating the lives of women and girls.
  • Various ministerial departments also play active roles in issuing orders—such as the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Higher Education, and Ministry of Communications. These departments cover many topics relevant to education and communication.  
  • Several departments are responsible for enforcing the edicts and orders, with a significant role played by the Ministry of Vice and Virtue. Violations of these decrees and orders are met with severe measures, including intimidation, warnings, arrest, detention, physical abuse and even death.  

The timeline below primarily encompasses edicts and orders that impact women and girls, often addressing issues related to human rights, media freedom and movement restrictions. It doesn’t encompass all the decrees and orders issued by the supreme leader, which tend to focus more on governance matters, with only a few directly addressing women and the dress code for women. (See a list of the decrees and orders of the Taliban supreme leader here on the website of the Taliban Ministry of Justice.)

The Taliban supreme leader and officials also issued decrees and orders since its founding in 1994. This list entails only those issued since the Taliban returned to power in August 2021. It will be updated regularly here by the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan campaign.

Gender apartheid is the systematic and institutionalized persecution and oppression of women or one gender group by those in power. The Taliban’s oppression and erasure of women from society is a severe, institutionalized violation of human rights and must be treated as an international crime. Take action to urge the U.S., the U.N. and the global community not to normalize gender apartheid and not to allow religion and culture to be used as an excuse to justify injustices against women and girls.


  • In over a dozen provinces, girls above age 10, or fifth grade, are no longer allowed to pursue education. Before this change, girls could go to school until grade six.

JULY 2023

  • Taliban’s director of preaching and propagation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a letter to its representatives in provinces and overseas, instructs them to perform daily prayers collectively and to adjust their appearance according to Shariah and the Prophet’s sunnah.

  • The Taliban abolishes the attorney general’s office and replaces it with the “Directorate of Supervision and Prosecution of Decrees and Orders,” designed to ensure the implementation of the Taliban’s orders in public and private life. 

  • In a new order, NGOs must hire Taliban-approved applicants to new positions.

JUNE 2023

  • A letter from the Ministry of Higher Education orders teachers to refrain from using certain words in their lectures and research. Many of the examples are in Farsi, or Dari.

  • The Ministry of Vice and Virtue announces that music is not allowed at weddings anymore. The ministry, which serves as the morality police, says the regime will be scouring wedding halls to enforce the ban.

MAY 2023

  • Men staff and teachers must keep their beards long if they want to keep their positions in the education department in the eastern province of Khost.  

  • Health workers are not allowed to carry smartphones while on duty in the southern Helmand province.

APRIL 2023

  • The Taliban orders the U.N. that Afghan national female staff are barred from work at the U.N.. Some 400 women work for the U.N. in Afghanistan.

  • The Shia community is ordered to celebrate Eid, a religious holiday in Islam, per the Taliban court announcement. The Shia community often celebrates Eid a day later.

MARCH 2023

  • New laws are announced, making it impossible for women to escape and divorce abusive husbands. Many women fear their divorces under the previous republic government could be voided, forcing them to return to their former husbands.

  • Men and women are ordered to visit shrines on different days.

  • New orders are issued to beauty salons in the central province of Parwan, demanding that women cleanse themselves before applying makeup.  

  • Restaurants in Takhar province should not serve women who are not escorted by a close male relative.

  • New year celebrations are forbidden. The order also prohibits celebrating birthdays, Valentine’s Day and Women’s Day. The Afghan people celebrate the Afghan new year (first day of spring) widely throughout the country.

  • In the northern province of Balkh, banking services become segregated by sex.

  • The attorney general’s office is abolished and renamed the General Directorate for Monitoring and Follow-up of Decrees and Directives.

  • Courts must reexamine cases settled by the courts under the republic government. It must invalidate cases that did not meet the Taliban Sharia.

  • Planting hashish (marijuana) is prohibited.


  • Intermarriages among Sunni and Shia are forbidden in the north of Afghanistan, in Badakhshan province.


  • Women are banned from visiting historic sites.

  • Poets are told not to compose musical proses.

  • High school graduate girls are told they are not allowed to take the university entrance exam.


  • Taliban says women students can no longer attend public or private universities until further notice.

  • Girls beyond sixth grade are not allowed to attend private courses.

  • Girls can pursue education in religious subject matters only.


Women hold placards during a protest calling for their rights to be recognized, near the Shah-e-Do Shamshira mosque in Kabul on Nov. 24, 2022. – Afghan women have been squeezed out of public life since the Taliban’s return to power in August last year, but small groups have staged flash protests that are usually quickly shut down by the Taliban, sometimes violently. (AFP via Getty Images)


  • Women students cannot choose subjects that are “too difficult” to study, including agriculture, mining, civil engineering.

  • Women can no longer serve on the Commission of Media Violations.


  • Girls are banned from secondary and high schools in east Afghanistan that had briefly opened.

  • Media outlets are ordered that women guest speakers must cover faces appearing on TV.


  • The Taliban has targeted religious minorities. In August 2022, the regime removes Ashura, a religious holiday for the Shia minority, as a public holiday.

JULY 2022

  • Taliban officials order women employees of the finance ministry to send a male relative to their jobs instead.

JUNE 2022

  • Girls in fourth, fifth and sixth grade are ordered in Ghazni to cover their faces while commuting to school or face expulsion.  

MAY 2022

  • Women cannot use public transport if they are alone.  A Taliban decree states that women should only leave their homes “in cases of necessity” and avoid going out.

  • The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission is dissolved, alongside five other key departments. Also dissolved is the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), the once high-powered National Security Council, and the commission for overseeing the implementation of the Afghan Sonstitution.

  • Taliban supreme leaders order that officials must refrain from second, third and fourth marriages. Taliban members are known to have more than one wife, often “rewarding” themselves with a second, third and fourth wife.

APRIL 2022

  • Social media app TikTok and video game app PUBG are both banned. The Taliban insists the apps are leading Afghan youths astray.  

  • A new hijab order is issued by the Taliban supreme leaders and the Ministry of Vice and Virtue, and the Department of Hearing of Complaints is assigned to implement it. Other ministries and departments, including, the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Guidance and Pilgrimage, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Interior, and the General Directorate of Intelligence preachers and orators, should fully cooperate in the implementation.

MARCH 2022

  • Schools will remain closed for girls beyond grade six. (Another statement a few days earlier promised that schools will reopen, but the Taliban walked back on their promise.)

  • The new year celebration was canceled and banned. New year is a big holiday in Afghanistan, but the Taliban say it is against their Sharia to celebrate the new year.

  • Taliban supreme leader orders that women cannot be employed or leave home.

  • Taliban supreme leaders are ordered to refrain from hiring relative and friends to jobs.

  • The supreme leader issues a lengthy order outlining the curricula for universities’ first and second semesters, mostly focusing on religious text and additions.


  • NGOs are ordered to replace board members and those in leadership positions with Afghans living inside Afghanistan.

  • Universities are ordered to enforce gender-segregated classrooms.   

  • Women are banned from flying or leaving the country without a mahram or male guardian. 

  • The Taliban supreme leader issues an order that the academic documents issued by the first Taliban regime are valid and the holders entitled for their benefits.


  • Public baths are closed for women in Balkh.  

  • Coffee shop owners in Herat are ordered not to serve women if a mahram does not accompany them.


  • Women are banned from long-distance (45 miles) road trips without a mahram or a close male family member. 

  • Drivers are banned from playing music in their cars. The order also demands that women passengers not be given rides without hijab.

  • Clothing stores are ordered to remove mannequins’ heads.

  • The Taliban’s supreme leader issues an extensive decree regarding women’s consent in marriage, inheritance, re-marriage after losing a husband, and fair treatment by the husband if he has more than one wife. The decree is ostensibly aimed at supporting women’s rights. However, there have been ongoing reports of Taliban officials forcing underage girls into marriage, raising concerns about enforcing this edict. This lack of adherence underscores that a significant portion of the Taliban within the organization does not consistently follow their leaders’ directives.


  • Women are banned from appearing in television shows.  

  •  The Taliban storm the Afghan Independent Bar Association and close the office. 

  • Followers of the non-Sunni sect of Islam and other religions are ordered to follow the Sharia orders and the Hanafi (Sunni) jurisprudence in performing their religious rituals. The order also states that senior government employees must be followers of Hanafi jurisprudence.  


  • Edicts on governance are issued. No specific edict is issued on women and human rights.


  • The Taliban replaces the Ministry of Women’s Affairs with the Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.   


  • The Taliban orders women to remain home for their “safety,” citing a lack of training and acceptance among Taliban foot soldiers to treat women with respect. A Taliban says it will be a temporary order until the situation becomes “normal.”

  • The Taliban enforces a ban on co-education and bans men from teaching girls.

  • The Taliban announces an empty promise of amnesty for all, including the opposition and former pro-republic officials.

  • The group also urges women to join the Taliban government.

Take Action

Take action to urge the U.S., the U.N. and the global community not to normalize gender apartheid and not to allow religion and culture to be used as an excuse to justify injustices against women and girls.

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