The Taliban has shut down Afghanistan’s women’s affairs ministry, replacing it will an all-male ministry for the “propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice”, escorting staff from the World Bank off the grounds.
The seizure of the women’s ministry is the latest sign that the Taliban is clamping down on women’s rights in Afghanistan, one month after its takeover of Kabul.
It’s been reported that World Bank staff running the $100 million Women’s Economic Empowerment and Rural Development Program out of the women’s ministry building were escorted off the grounds, and a new sign was put up on the building which read “Ministry for Preaching and Guidance and the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice”.
On Sunday, about a dozen women staged a short-lived protest outside the ministry building, holding signs that called for women’s rights in public life. “A society in which women are not active is dead society,” a sign said.
Meanwhile, women who work in Kabul city’s government have been told to stay home, with work only allowed for those whose jobs cannot be replaced by men. Women have been ordered to stay home pending a further decision, according to the Taliban-appointed interim Kabul mayor, Hamdullah Namony.
In the 1990s, the Taliban largely banned women and girls from public life, banning them from education and work. During this period, the Taliban’s Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice acted as the country’s ‘moral police’, enforcing its interpretation of Islamic law.
Despite their earlier stated commitment to inclusivity, the Taliban has implemented an all-male government, excluding women and other minorities from its ranks.
In recent days, the Taliban has announced female middle and high school students can no longer attend school, while their male peers resumed classes, alongside their male teachers. The Taliban has given no indication if, or when, girls will be able to resume their schooling.
Since the news that girls are prohibited from attending secondary school, many boys have been refusing to go to school themselves, in solidarity with their sisters and female peers, sharing pictures on social media.
The Taliban have prohibited girls from secondary school in Afghanistan. In solidarity, many boys have been refusing to go to school themselves. “We don’t go to school without our sisters”, reads this sign. pic.twitter.com/BY2RXBFJdk— Yalda Hakim (@BBCYaldaHakim) September 19, 2021
Meanwhile, female university students must now abide by a strict dress code, and only attend classes in gender-segregated settings.
Women have also been prevented from participating in sport, including cricket, because the Taliban says it will “expose their bodies” or “expose them to the media.”
Also, three explosions targeting Taliban vehicles in Jalalabad, killed three people and wounded twenty on Saturday. There has been no immediate claim of the attack, but Islamic State (IS) militants, who are enemies of the Taliban, are headquartered in the area.