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Sunday, 24 May, 1998, 18:38 GMT 19:38 UK
Afghans flogged for flouting dress code
afghan women
Afghan women must cover their faces completely

Reports from the Afghan capital Kabul say nearly 500 men have been lashed by Taleban religious police over the past two days for failing to comply with rules requiring men to grow long beards.

afghan soldier
The beard should protrude from the bottom of a fist held up to the chin
The punishments are part of a campaign by the Taleban to enforce their strict interpretation of Islamic laws on appearance and conduct.

Ten taxi drivers were also punished for carrying women passengers without a male escort, and more than 100 women were publicly reprimanded for not fully covering their faces.

Strict dress code

The Taleban have decreed that men should not shave or trim their beards, which must grow long enough to protrude from a fist clasped at the point of the chin.

Women have been ordered to wear the all-enveloping burqa veil - which leaves just a small patch of gauze to see out of - when outside their houses, and are forbidden from taking taxis unless accompanied by a male blood relative. Women are also barred from wearing jewellery or high-heeled shoes.

Taleban on mission

The Taleban control two thirds of Afghanistan and say they are on a mission to make the country the world's purest Islamic state. The movement says it will not bow to international pressure to relax its Islamicisation programme.

Many countries and international bodies, including the United States and the European Community, have criticised the Taleban, particularly for their treatment of women.

But earlier this week the Taleban rejected a new report by the international human rights group Amnesty International, which condemned the Taleban's human rights record, particularly over public executions and amputations.

See also:

04 Nov 97 | West Asia
Afghans Check Their Hair
19 Feb 98 | From Our Own Correspondent
Reflections on Afghanistan
01 Mar 98 | S/W Asia
Huge crowds watch Taleban punishment
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