Afghan women protested outside the newly reopened office of the Taliban morality police in Kabul on Sunday, days after the militant group shut down the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.
About two dozen women activists demonstrated against the closure of the women’s ministry and called for their rights to employment and education.
The Taliban who are now the government in-charge of the whole country replaced the women’s ministry by their Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
Female staff said they had been trying to return to work at the ministry for several weeks since the Taliban takeover last month, only to be told to go home.
The sign outside the Ministry of Women’s Affairs has been replaced by one for the Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
“The Ministry of Women’s Affairs must be reactivated,” said Ms. Baseera Tawana, one of the protesters outside the building. “The removal of women means the removal of human beings.”
When Taliban Islamists were in power from 1996-2001, girls were not allowed to attend school and women were banned from work and education.
During that period, the Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice became known as the group’s moral police, enforcing its interpretation of sharia that includes a strict dress code and public executions and floggings.
The protest came a day after some girls returned to primary schools with gender-segregated classes, but older girls faced an anxious wait with no clarity over if and when they would be able to resume their studies.
“You cannot suppress the voice of Afghan women by keeping girls at home and restricting them, as well as by not allowing them to go to school,” said protester Taranum Sayeedi.
“The women of Afghanistan today are not the women of 26 years ago.”
Taliban officials have said they will not return to their fundamentalist policies, including the ban on girls receiving an education. (Source: The Straits Times)