the essential Friday 17 September, the Taliban seem to have closed the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to replace it with that of the Promotion of Virtue and of the Prevention of vice.
Several messages had appeared on social networks in recent 24 hours, showing employees of the ministry demonstrating in front of the building, because they claimed to have lost their jobs. “Nobody hears our women,” said a surfer on Twitter, while another wondered: “What else can we expect from these animals?”. No Taliban official responded to AFP’s requests for comment on the matter on Friday.
Although they insisted that they would rule more moderately than when they ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban did not allow most of the women to return to work. No woman was among the ministers of the new Taliban government announced two weeks ago.
On Friday, the Ministry of Education announced in a statement the reopening of middle and high schools for boys, and the return to work of male teachers. “All male teachers and students must find their schools,” he said, without any mention of teachers or college girls. Under the previous regime, boys and girls only shared the same benches in certain primary schools and at the university. In higher education, gender segregation will be the rule, the Taliban have already announced, which has introduced rules about what female students are allowed to wear.
Although still marginalized, Afghan women have acquired fundamental rights these 20 last years, especially in the cities, becoming parliamentarians, judges, pilots or police officers. Hundreds of thousands of them have entered the labor market – often out of necessity, as many are widowed or supporting husbands who are now disabled after decades of conflict. But since their return to power on 15 August, the Taliban have shown no willingness to guarantee their rights. Islamists say women have been ordered to stay at home for their own safety, but will be allowed to work once proper segregation is in place. During the first Taliban rule, women were largely excluded from public life. They could only leave their homes if they were accompanied by a chaperone.
Agents from the Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice were known to whip women who walked alone. They were also responsible for strictly enforcing other strict interpretations of Islam, such as the obligation to attend prayers and the prohibition on men shaving.