“What’s the point of going to school if you can’t work?” »: Confidences of Afghan women in a beauty salon in Kandahar

Par Ghazal Golshiri

Posted at 10:15 a.m. yesterday, updated at 11:19 a.m.

In Kandahar, arguably even more than in the rest of Afghanistan, women are largely absent from public space and life. Their “visible” existence has not changed much since the Taliban took control of the country. The few Afghan women who go out in public pass like ghosts, wrapped in dusty, pastel-colored burqas. To see and hear them, the possibilities are few. But behind the metal door of the Zaiwar beauty salon, located in the popular Bargah district, once in the basement, the women’s veil falls and their speech is released. In a din of cries and Indian music, they are about fifty, on this Thursday, the beginning of the weekend. To make your way through this compact crowd, you have to elbow your way.

The owner of the salon, also called Zaiwar, is a confident woman with a dense look. Born in Iran, she learned the trade of beautician with her mother. She is the only one in the living room to proudly show off botoxed lips and a retouched nose. “I did it in Iran”, slips this 28 year old woman. She resumed work a few weeks ago, after a month-long hiatus, following the passage of the whole country into Taliban hands on August 15. ” I was scared “, Zaiwar slips. She nevertheless reopened her living room. Her husband, a dried fruit seller, could not provide for the needs of their five family members on his own.

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Zaiwar took down the large posters that adorned the walls of his business, showing women without veils and make-up, and put them in an inconspicuous room. “So that the Taliban do not see them if they break in here”, she says. When they came to power, she who wore tight pants under her burqa no longer had anything to dress. “I bought myself some Punjabis, loose and traditional pants”, slips this woman, all of whose brothers and sisters have gone to Germany. “They called me today. They were crying and begging me to come and join them, because of the security situation ”, explains the beautician, as she covers a client’s face with pale foundation before applying false eyelashes. She is invited to a wedding the same evening.

” I want to scream “

Zaiwar’s family, like all the women met in this beauty salon, are all the more worried that on October 15, a suicide attack took place a few dozen meters away, in a mosque. That day, a Friday, the salon was closed. But several of his acquaintances were injured. The attack, which killed 47 people, was claimed by the Islamic State organization, enemy and rival of the Taliban, very active since their seizure of power.

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“What’s the point of going to school if you can’t work?” »: Confidences of Afghan women in a beauty salon in Kandahar

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