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By Edet Ikotidem

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Afghan women who wish to travel long distances by road should be provided with transportation only if accompanied by a male relative, according to the Taliban.

The directive, issued on Sunday, is the most recent restriction on women’s rights imposed by the Islamist group since it took power in August.

The majority of secondary schools for girls remain closed, and the majority of women are prohibited from working.

The new restriction, according to the campaign group Human Rights Watch, pushes women even further into the prison system.

The order, according to Heather Barr, the organization’s associate director of women’s rights, “closes off opportunities for [women] to be able to move about freely” or “to flee if they are facing violence in the home.”

According to the most recent directive issued by the Taliban’s Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, women who travel more than 45 miles (72 kilometers) should be accompanied by a close male family member.

“I felt awful.” Fatima, a Kabul-based midwife, told the BBC that she was responding to the directive. “I can’t go out by myself. What should I do if I or my child become ill and my husband is unable to care for us?”

“The Taliban took away our happiness,” she went on, “and I have lost both my independence and my happiness.”

The document instructs drivers to refuse rides to women who do not wear Islamic head or face coverings, but it does not specify which type of covering should be worn. Headscarves are already worn by the vast majority of Afghan women.

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It also forbids the use of music in automobiles.

Since assuming power following the withdrawal of US and allied forces, the Taliban has ordered that most female workers remain at home and that secondary schools only admit boys and male teachers.

The restrictions, according to the Taliban, are “temporary” and are only in place to ensure that all workplaces and learning environments are “safe” for women and girls. During their previous rule in the 1990s, women were barred from education and employment.

Last month, the group prohibited women from appearing in television dramas and ordered female journalists and presenters to wear headscarves on camera.

Donor countries have warned the Taliban that they must respect women’s rights before receiving any further financial assistance.

The country is in the grip of a severe humanitarian and economic crisis, which has been exacerbated by international aid withdrawal since the group took power.

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