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Taliban orders Kabul municipality’s female workers to stay home

Women march to demand their rights under the Taliban rule during a demonstration near the former Women's Affairs Ministry building in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 19, 2021. (AP Photo)
Women march to demand their rights under the Taliban rule during a demonstration near the former Women's Affairs Ministry building in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 19, 2021. (AP Photo)

KABUL, Afghanistan — Female employees in the Kabul city government have been told to stay home, with work only allowed for those who cannot be replaced by men, the interim mayor of Afghanistan’s capital says, detailing the latest restrictions on women by the new Taliban rulers.

The decision to prevent most female city workers from returning to their jobs is another sign that the Taliban, who overran Kabul last month, are enforcing their harsh interpretation of Islam despite initial promises by some that they would be tolerant and inclusive. In their previous rule in the 1990s, the Taliban had barred girls and women from schools, jobs and public life.

In recent days, the new Taliban government issued several decrees rolling back the rights of girls and women. It told female middle- and high school students that they could not return to school for the time being, while boys in those grades resumed studies this weekend. Female university students were informed that studies would take place in gender-segregated settings from now on, and that they must abide by a strict Islamic dress code. Under the US-backed government deposed by the Taliban, university studies had been co-ed, for the most part.

On Friday, the Taliban shut down the Women’s Affairs Ministry, replacing it with a ministry for the “propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice” and tasked with enforcing Islamic law.

Today, just over a dozen women stage a protest outside the ministry, holding up signs calling for the participation of women in public life. “A society in which women are not active is (sic) dead society,” one signs read.

“Why are they (the Taliban) taking our rights?” says one of the protesters, 30-year-old Basira Tawana. “We are here for our rights and the rights of our daughters.”

The protest lasts for about 10 minutes. After a short verbal confrontation with a man, the women get into cars and leave, as Taliban in two cars observe from nearby. Over the past months, Taliban fighters had broken up several women’s protests by force.

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