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Taliban Shut Down Ministry of Women's Affairs

Taliban Shut Down Ministry of Women's Affairs

Saturday, 18 September, 2021 - 04:45
A group of women gather for a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 16, 2021 in this screengrab obtained from a social media video. Video taken September 16, 2021. ZAKIA KAWYAN/via REUTERS

The Taliban appeared Friday to have shut down the government's ministry of women's affairs and replaced it with a department notorious for enforcing strict religious doctrine during their first rule two decades ago.

And in a further sign the Taliban's approach to women and girls had not softened, the education ministry said only classes for boys would restart Saturday in an order for secondary schools to reopen.

In Kabul, workers were seen raising a sign for the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice at the old Women's Affairs building in the capital.

Several posts have appeared on Twitter in the last 24 hours showing women workers from the ministry protesting outside the building, saying they had lost their jobs.

Also on Friday, the education ministry issued a statement ordering male teachers back to work and said secondary school classes for boys would resume on Saturday.

"All male teachers and students should attend their educational institutions," a statement said, making no mention of women teachers or girl pupils.

Despite insisting they will rule more moderately this time around, the Taliban have not allowed women to return to work and introduced rules for what they can wear at university.

A new Taliban government announced two weeks ago had no women members or even a ministry to represent their interests.

Although still marginalized, Afghan women have fought for and gained basic rights in the past 20 years, becoming lawmakers, judges, pilots and police officers.

Hundreds of thousands have entered the workforce -- a necessity in some cases as many women were widowed or now support invalid husbands as a result of two decades of conflict.

But since returning to power on August 15, the Taliban have shown no inclination to honor those rights.

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