Taliban replace Ministry of Women’s Affairs with ministry for morality

Kabul : The Taliban has banned female members of staff from entering the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Kabul. The Islamists, who seized control of Afghanistan on August 15, locked women out of the building on Thursday and replaced the department with a ministry for morality.

The women’s ministry signboard was replaced with the ‘Ministries of Prayer and Guidance and the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice’.

Female employees said they had been trying to come to work for several weeks only to be told to return to their homes, according to videos filmed outside the building.

The gates of the building were finally locked on Thursday. A senior Taliban leader had said earlier that women would not be allowed to work in government ministries with men, the Mail Online reported.

Women gathered outside the presidential palace on Thursday, calling on the Taliban to protect their rights and allow girls to study and work.

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 but included an acting minister for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice.

Although still marginalised, 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.

During the Taliban’s first rule from 1996 to 2001, women were largely excluded from public life including being banned from leaving their homes unless accompanied by a male relative.

Enforcers from the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice were known to lash women found walking alone.

They were also responsible for strictly implementing other hardline interpretations of Islam, such as compulsory attendance at prayers, and no trimming of beards for men.