You can’t buy SIM cards, Taliban tell women in Uruzgan

Local sources from Uruzgan say that the Taliban have now banned the sale of SIM cards to women in the province. “I went to buy a SIM card last week, but the shopkeeper didn’t give me a SIM card and said that it is forbidden to give SIM cards to women,” Nouria*, a resident of Trinkot city, told Zan Times. “I sometimes go to my friends’ houses, and I need to call my family. The ban will deprive me of the ability to contact my family.” 

Fouzia*, another woman living in the province, also found herself unable to buy a SIM card. “For more than three weeks, I have been going to the city repeatedly to buy SIM cards, but they say that the Department of Telecommunications has given them a letter not to sell SIM cards to women,” she tells Zan Times. The letter was sent on October 25 to all SIM card sellers in the city, sources say.   

A SIM card seller in Uruzgan, who does not want to be named, confirms that businesses have been told not to sell SIM cards to women. “The Taliban told us not to issue SIM cards to women” the seller tells Zan Times. 

The Taliban had previously prohibited women from going to the women’s bathhouses and forbid them from sightseeing without being accompanied by a close relation. And while the SIM card ban applies to all women, it will hit businesswomen particularly hard. It’s the latest in a series of edicts that the Taliban have imposed on females trying to make a living in the private sector. Businesswomen in Daikundi province were recently told by the Taliban’s directorate of vice and virtue that they can’t conduct business with male clients and employers and that tailors were unable to even make men’s clothing.   

The UNDP says that the Taliban restrictions on women’s work can cost the country US$1 billion, equivalent to five percent of the country’s GDP. Since the Taliban have come to power they have imposed increasingly severe restrictions on women and have deprived many of the opportunity to earn a living. While the country is engulfed by a humanitarian crisis, this leaves many female-led households in a very precarious situation.