Kabul store owner ‘shocked’ after Taliban gunmen order women’s fashion store to remain open

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The owner of a women’s clothing store in Kabul said he was “shocked” after Taliban gunmen broke into his store – but allowed him to continue working normally, despite the clothes on sale going against its strict rules on women’s clothing.

Shabir Roshan said I he reopened his store, Roshan Shopping Center, in the Afghan capital after the Taliban took control of the country because he felt he had no choice.

“I have 20 workers and I have to pay them wages,” he said.

However, he told his employees to stay home, admitting that they were “scared” and that few customers came through the door.

Shortly after the opening, Taliban fighters armed with rifles entered his store, but to his surprise, they told him to continue working.

“As soon as I opened they came to my store with guns and everything, at first I was really scared,” he said. “But I’m Afghan, so I’m used to this stuff, you know?”

“They assured me, ‘Keep your store open and no one will hurt you.’ I don’t know what will happen next. They assured me nothing will happen, everything will be fine, so let’s see.

When asked if the Taliban had a problem with the clothes he was selling, he replied, “Not at all, no problem. The Taliban didn’t care.

“Of course I was shocked, I heard that the Taliban are all fucking animals. It was surprising there were women in the street but they didn’t say anything.

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Mr. Roshan sells the latest women’s fashion, especially evening dresses. Photos on his social media channels – where he has more than 72,000 followers – show flowy dresses with thigh slits, exposed one-shoulder numbers and strappy dresses.

Some of the dresses featured on the models are cinched at the waist to show off an hourglass figure. He even sells bespoke women’s suits – complete with blazer and pants – as well as jeweled heels and matching accessories.

A young Afghan man walks past disfigured images of women on the wall of a store in Kabul (Photo: Aamir Qureshi / AFP via Getty)

All of these styles, typical of Western markets, go against the strict Taliban order that women should be completely covered from head to toe in a burqa when in public. In the past, insurgents severely punished women – sometimes with lashes in public – if they did not wear one.

“These are the latest designs, evening dresses,” Mr. Roshan said. “Before, I was doing really great, now I don’t know what’s going to happen, so far everything is down. My store is still open, but there are few customers.

He said he believed he could continue to work normally and that the Taliban had changed – a belief evident in recent posts on the store’s Facebook page promising free delivery to the city as the streets were empty of shoppers. .

“I will continue my work as before, I will not go anywhere because I love my country,” he said. “I hope things improve, this time the Taliban have totally changed, they want contact with the outside world.”

When asked if he believed the assurances of the Taliban, he replied, “Of course I believe them, they pass (the store) every day, they say don’t worry, no one will hurt you.” , things like that. I’m hopeful it’s the least we can do, you know?

There are growing fears that the Taliban will renege on their promises to respect women’s rights, with many women too afraid to leave their homes while others have been ordered to stop working.

Mr Roshan said he took precautions to protect his staff, including five women. “As soon as they arrived, I told them to stay with them for a few days,” he added. “I’ll call them next week, they’re scared.”

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